Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Franchises: Godzlla. Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)

GodzillaFinalWarsPoster.jpgWell, here we are. After months and months of reviews, we've reached the (so far) final entry in the Japanese Godzilla film series, which is this wild, extravagant, and utterly insane 50th anniversary film. While I wasn't too privy about the majority of the movies made after Godzilla 2000, I did hear quite a bit about this one since it got a fair amount of press for being both an anniversary movie and for being the supposed final film in this long-running series. It even had a premier in Los Angeles, whose release date I saw marked on IMDB's main page, making it the first movie since Godzilla 2000 to get any type of stateside theatrical engagement. I knew that 2004 was going to be a major milestone in the character's long history but I was surprised at how much hype there actually was around it. The celebratory mood that accompanied this movie and the occasion it signified was fairly palpable, and it actually managed to temporarily pull me out of my late high school period of snobbishness in regards to this major aspect of my childhood and make me remember exactly why this whole world grabbed me to begin with. I remember hearing that Godzilla received his long-awaited star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame right before the film premiered, an occasion that was marked by the presence of an actual guy in a steam-spouting shoot (I really wish I had seen the news footage of that), which made me very happy, as did the very notion the Big G was being celebrated in such an awesome way. It was a celebration that came and went rather quickly, and I didn't hear anything about what kind of a movie Godzilla: Final Wars was or how well it did, but regardless, it was still quite nice to be privy to all of this and experience it for just a little bit. Now, as for the movie itself, I didn't know much about the details other than it was Destroy All Monsters cranked up to eleven, that it was a very big movie with a lot of monsters running around and Godzilla kicking a lot of ass. At least, that's what I heard from that friend of mine who, at the time, was more into the series than I was and had informed me of some of the other Millennium films. He also told me that the director behind the film had made some pretty wild movies before and that this film would more than likely be the same way. After that, though, I moved on and didn't think much about Final Wars until I just came across it on DVD in Wal-Mart sometime in 2006, which I was very surprised to see since I didn't know that it or the other Millennium films past Megaguirus and GMK had even been released over here yet. I didn't buy it at that time, however, and although I attempted to later that year when I was shopping around, using money my relatives had given me for my birthday, the one copy that I found at that particular time had the disc rolling around inside it and I didn't want to risk wasting money on a scratched DVD. Not long after that, I met up with that friend of mine and he told me that he found Final Wars to be very disappointing, that the director took too much inspiration from the cheesy 70's films and didn't make it serious enough. At that time, I wasn't too willing to embrace the cheesy aspects of Godzilla as I had before as a child and so, wasn't thrilled upon hearing that. After that, I once again put Final Wars out of mind until I stumbled across it again at the beginning of 2007 and this time, I did pick it up and eventually checked it out.

After the movie was over, I was left sitting there on my futon thinking, "Well, that was... different." That's the thing about Godzilla: Final Wars: it's a very hard movie to quantify when you're trying to describe it for those who haven't seen it. It's by far the most out there, over the top, quirky, and visually crazy movie of the entire franchise. Nothing else comes close. You thought Godzilla vs. Hedorah was bonkers with its psychedelic animation sequences and nonsensical visuals like people with fish-heads and multicolored split-screens? No, as bizarre an imagination as Yoshimitsu Banno has, Ryuhei Kitamura, the director here, makes him look feeble. This film is like if you took The Matrix films, Jet Li's The One, Star Wars, the X-Men, comic books in general, and Japanese kaiju flicks and put them all into a blender. It's that crazy. I can definitely see why my friend was put off by it because if you're not in the mood for a movie like this, you will not know what the hell you just watched when it's over. Alright, enough description, you want to know what I personally think of this film, right? Well, to be honest, it depends on the mood I'm in whenever I view it. Sometimes I've come out of it feeling rather empty, irritated, and unsatisfied, whereas other times I've come out feeling fairly entertained. There is a lot of good in this movie, with its epic scope, well-done effects, many moments of genuine bad-assness, especially when it comes to Godzilla himself, and the nostalgia factor of seeing a lot of monsters that haven't been in a movie since the Showa era. At the same time, though, the film's size and over the top nature does cause it to buckle underneath its own weight as the third act draws near. With a running time of 125 minutes, the longest of any of the Japanese Godzilla films, and so much stuff crammed into it, it feels like the film begins to burn itself out about 3/4 of the way through since, by that point, the highly stylized look and feel and the overlong action sequences have overstayed their welcome. So, for now, I'll say that, if you're in the mood for a movie that's just crazy and bigger than life, this is the flick for you, but don't be surprised if you find yourself getting tired by the time the movie begins to wind down.

By 2004, with endless warfare and unchecked pollution having resulted in the awakening and creation of countless monsters, the Earth Defense Force is formed. In addition to the latest technology and weapons, as well as the best soldiers, the organization also has the services of mutants: human beings capable of incredible feats of strength, speed, and agility. Their greatest opponent, the mighty King of the Monsters, Godzilla, is finally dispensed with when the EDF's best combat vehicle, the Gotengo, manages to bury him alive at the South Pole. Forty years later, the Gotengo is caught up in a dangerous undersea battle with the monstrous serpent, Manda. Although they manage to defeat the monster, the ship's captain, Gordon, is ultimately court-martialed for his reckless handling of the mission and his overall violent and insubordinate disposition. Meanwhile, the mummified body of a huge is discovered and the United Nations sends biologist Dr. Miyuki Otonashi to study it, with mutant soldier Ozaki tasked with acting as her bodyguard. During their research, they're visited by the Shobijin, who tell them that the monster is Gigan, an alien cyborg that was sent to the planet 12,000 years ago to conquer it but was defeated by Mothra. The Shobijin also tell Ozaki that soon, the time will come when his mutant capabilities will force him to choose siding with either good or evil. Not too long afterward, the Japanese UN Secretary General, Daigo, disappears while on his way to New York, followed by monsters popping up all over the world and attacking major cities: Rodan attacks New York, Anguirus appears in Shanghai, King Caesar begins destroying Okinawa, Zilla attacks Sydney, and so forth. The EDF engages the monsters but aren't having much luck when, suddenly, they vanish just as abruptly as they appeared. That's when an enormous UFO appears in Tokyo and beams down Daigo, who claims that the aliens rescued him. The beings, who call themselves the Xiliens, say that they come in peace and warn the humans of an oncoming planet called Gorath that will soon collide with Earth and destroy it. At the same time, the United Nations is disbanded and the Space Nations is formed instead in an attempt to unite the universe. However, while the majority of the planet's population are taken with the Xiliens, Ozaki, Otonashi, and the latter's talk-show host sister, Anna, have their suspicions. Their suspicions are confirmed when evidence suggests that Daigo and EDF commander Namikawa are actually Xilien imposters, that they were the ones who had the monsters attack, and that the story about Gorath was a lie. After busting Captain Gordon out of his cell, the group exposes the aliens for the villains that they are, with the impulsive, violent second-in-command killing his superior and taking over the invasion force. The new leader then uses his influence to turn the humans' mutant allies, save for Ozaki, against them, and unleashes all of the monsters, turning the entire planet in an all-out warzone. With no more weapons and allies at their disposal, the group decides that they only have one option left: release Godzilla and have him battle the monsters while they deal with the Xiliens in a mission that Gordon dubs Operation Final War.

Whether or not they had ever intended to make a third chapter of the story told in Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla and Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S., there was one fact that Toho couldn't deny: while the former had done fairly well, the latter had been a big flop. Not even being paired up with another Hamtaro movie could save Tokyo S.O.S., which ultimately sold less tickets than Godzilla vs. Megaguirus. By that notion, doing another Godzilla movie altogether, second sequel or not, seemed like a waste of time and money but, since the following year was going to be the 50th anniversary, Toho felt like it had to do something. And here's where history once again repeats itself: as had happened when Megaguirus bombed, Toho decided that they needed to do something outside of the box and bring in a director who could shake things up. That's when they made the rather risky decision of hiring Ryuhei Kitamura, a director whose wild visual style and penchant for insane, over-the-top violence and action scenes weren't exactly elements that the Godzilla movies had employed before (indeed, some critics have felt that Kitamura was completely the wrong director for the job). But, Toho and Shogo Tomiyama felt that they needed to do something special for the occasion of the 50th anniversary and so, other than assuring that the film wouldn't be an absolutely ultra-violent, mean-spirited movie that would turn away family audiences, they pretty much gave Kitamura carte blanche, resulting in Godzilla: Final Wars being the only other Millennium film that has a director's personal stamp, with the other having been GMK.

Out of all the directors who have ever held the reigns to Godzilla, Ryuhei Kitamura is probably the most rebellious in regards to his relationship with the Japanese film industry, mainly since he's not one of those who came up through the ranks of the studio system and endeared himself to the big wigs. Instead, he was a high school dropout who had studied at an Australian-based school of visual arts and whose filmmaking idols were people like George Miller, Russel Mulcahy, Peter Weir, and, most significantly, John Carpenter and Sam Raimi; in other words, filmmakers whose independent sensibilities, especially in the case of the latter two, were at odds with those of the Hollywood studio system (although Raimi, of course, would find huge mainstream success with his Spider-Man films). Someone with that same mindset would have an even tougher time finding work in the very stringent, "take no risk" Japanese film industry but Kitamura, like his heroes, was undeterred. When he returned to Japan after graduating, he established his own independent production studio and produced his first two films there before raising enough money with everyone else he knew (family, friends, ex-girlfriends, etc.) to make his first notable movie, Versus. This was the flick that put him on the map due to its major cult success, especially when it was released on DVD outside of Japan. It got him more high-profile jobs, including directing a feature film adaptation of the popular manga Azumi and a prequel to the television show Sky High. After his film Longinus, Kitamura was ready to head to Hollywood when Shogo Tomiyama contacted him about Godzilla: Final Wars. Being a huge fan of the franchise, Kitamura jumped at the opportunity and set about correcting the mistakes he felt that the previous few films in the series had made and make this one the biggest and the best. Although, as I mentioned up above, Kitamura was told that he couldn't make the movie too dark and violent, which were his natural instincts, he was otherwise allowed to do whatever he wanted and so, like Shusuke Kaneko before him, he produced a film that, if nothing else, is a true artist's vision (the fact that he was given the biggest budget ever for one of these films, $19.5 million, didn't hurt either). If you don't like Kitamura's previous films, you won't like this, because it's that same crazy, out there style that he showed off in Versus. Since Final Wars, Kitamura has relocated to Hollywood, where he has had limited success as a director. His first American film, a very well-made and true adaptation of Clive Barker's Midnight Meat Train, didn't do much at the box-office in 2008 and No One Lives was released in only a limited capacity in 2013. He's also recently made his Japanese comeback film, a live-action, modern day adaptation of the legendary manga, Lupin III, and has other projects in the works including a slasher film called Black Friday 3D and has written a script for a sequel to Versus.

In talking about Godzilla: Final Wars, what you have to understand is Kitamura's mindset behind making the film. He has described it as a "Best Of Godzilla" album movie, taking what he considers the best elements from the past films and combining them in a new way. Specifically, he wanted to make a movie that was in line with the energetic, fast pace that he felt the latter Showa films had, specifically Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, which is his personal favorite. In other words, this is nothing less than a huge, sprawling love-letter to the franchise from a life-long fan who has the money and manpower to make it with. The story and characters are secondary because this is a movie that is virtually nothing more than a series of high-octane, over-the-top battles and effects sequences, involving both humans and monsters, that doesn't dwell on the issue of what should be done about the situation, as Kitamura felt the previous films got bogged down with. The story being nothing more than an updated retelling of the alien invasion plots in movies like Godzilla vs. Monster Zero and Destroy All Monsters, with the aliens themselves being new versions of the people from Planet X in the former movie, should be a sign of the director's intentions in and of itself. The reason I bring this up is to, one, let you know ahead of time that this is probably going to be the biggest of all of these reviews since there's a lot to mention here (the breakdown of the monster and action scenes will probably be so big that it could make for a blog post by itself) and, also, that we're not going to be getting into any deep, philosophical discussions here because that's not in Kitamura's vocabulary. Anybody wanting the original Godzilla's significant themes about the dangers of atomic weapons or the discussions of Japanese business society and the current state of living in the country that were seen in some of the later films is in the wrong movie!

It may seem pointless to talk about the characters in a movie like this where thrilling action and stunts, as well as breathtaking visuals, are everything but, regardless, there are some people here who are very noteworthy so I'd be remised to not stay the course and talk about them. Our lead, Ozaki (Masahiro Matsuoka), is a fairly bland, heroic character but that doesn't matter because he gets to kick more than his fair share of ass. He's one of this new breed of people with special physical abilities called mutants but, unlike his more aggressive partner Kazama, Ozaki is compassionate and does not feel that he needs to kill in order to protect people, something that Kazama gives him a hard time over (you know that's going to come into play later on the minute you hear it). Another predictable aspect of his character is that, when he's assigned to act as a bodyguard for UN biologist Miyuki Otonashi and the two of them don't exactly get off on the right foot, you know that they're eventually going to become an item, which they do... well, to the degree that these movies will allow, anyway. Despite his soft side, Ozaki is also a little bit cynical, scoffing at the Shobijin when they warn him that he, like all mutants, have a potential for evil in their blood cells, and his attitude about a leggy woman being a scientist is what initially puts him at odds with Dr. Otonashi. This cynicism, however, comes in handy after the Xiliens arrive and he thinks it's a little too convenient for them to have shown up just when they discover that the monster Gigan is proven to be from space as well. This hunch is soon verified when they discover that Secretary General Daigo and Commander Namikawa have been replaced with Xilien imposters and the aliens' story about Gorath was a lie, prompting Ozaki and the others to form a resistance group from the Earth Defense Force and make it their mission to stop the Xiliens. When they reveal the aliens for the villains that they are, Ozaki gets the first hint that there's something special about him when his M-base (I'll explain later) is not affected by the Xilien leader, who uses it to gain control of the other mutants. It's not until the third act that he learns that the reason for that is because he's a special creature known as a Keizer and his true potential has yet to be awakened. The Xilien leader attempts to awaken this hidden power in order to bend him to his will and while Ozaki does at first succumb to it, he's ultimately able to overcome it thanks to the amulet given to him by the Shobijin and what they said about his having a choice about serving either good or evil. He then uses his gift to defeat the leader. He also uses his power to give Godzilla the strength that he needs to defeat the Xiliens' ultimate weapon, Monster X, and end the war. A bland hero he might be, Ozaki is still worth rooting for and it's nice when he finally does come out on top, even though it's predictable that he ultimately will.

Dr. Miyuki Otonashi (Rei Kikukawa) has the thankless role of being little more than a good-looking scientist who provides some information on the proceedings but, at a given point, she doesn't do much else other than sit off on the sidelines. As I said up above, she and Ozaki don't start off liking each other that much, Ozaki having a rather arrogant attitude about a woman being a scientist and Otonashi thinking that Ozaki is more flippant the tough guys she thought all mutants were, telling him to not talk or even look at her unless absolutely necessary. After that, she researches the mummified Gigan with Dr. Jinguji and joins up with the small resistance group from the Earth Defense Force when the Xiliens show their true colors. She does act as bait to prove to those in the EDF who are unconvinced that Commander Namikawa and other members have been replaced with imposters but, once that's done, she spends most of the movie sitting around during the big action sequences. They do try to bring back up the bond that's been formed by her and Ozaki to try to keep her important in the plot but it doesn't much other than her using the Shobijin's amulet to break the Xilien leader's control over Ozaki; otherwise, she's little more than a bystander during the big final fight (the only major thing she does is help the Gotengo in pulling out of the Xilien mother-ship when one operator gets injured). While not a bad character, she simply can't help but fall into the rut that most female actors tend to fall into these films. And while we're talking about her, we might as well mention her sister, Anna (Maki Mizuno), who works as a talk show host in Tokyo and is the one who shows them footage of Daigo that shows that there's something weird about him and that he might not be what he seems, per their suspicions. On that note, Anna takes it upon herself to prove that Daigo is an imposter, attempting to feel him out in a conversation since she had talked with him before he disappeared. She lucks out, however, when he gets attacked and stabbed by a would-be assassin and her sister is unable to obtain a blood sample, which she confirms as to be inhuman. Now that they know for sure what's going on, Anna tricks the fake Daigo into exposing himself by presenting him with a dog whom he immediately takes for the real Daigo's. As if his inability that he can't remember the dog's name isn't enough of a tipoff, Anna eventually reveals that it was in fact her dog all along, prompting the aliens to realize they've been caught and drop the act. After that, though, Anna does do much else in the film since she stays behind in the ruins of Tokyo and doesn't partake in Operation Final War. Ironic, given that she accomplished a lot more than her biologist sister!

Far and way, the best character in the film is former MMA fighter Don Frye as Captain Gordon. There are no other words I can think to describe this guy other than two: badass and cool. He's got all the stuff necessary for a quintessential action movie hero: a gruff voice, an impressive build despite his relatively short stature, a long overcoat, a rocking moustache, and a big, "fuck off" kitanna sword. A lot of his lines are rather cliché and perhaps a little too typical for the type of character he's trying to be but Frye is so cool and smooth in the way he says them that he makes them work. You can't help but smile when he says stuff like, "Ozaki... nice work," which he says upon seeing Miyuki and Anna for the first time, "I like to play the odds," "See you, sweetheart," and, "There's two things you don't know about the Earth: one is me, and the other is Godzilla." I like his gestures, like when he raises his eyebrow at certain point, does some nice swishes and poses with his overcoat and sword during the fight scenes, as well as just how much of an awesome fighter that he is, but I think my favorite moment of his is near the end of the movie when he gets into a fight with two Xilien soldiers, one of whom is a female. After knocking out the male, Gordon is about to clock the female when she says, "Would you hit a lady?" Gordon looks at his fist, opens it up, looks back at the alien, smiles, and says, "Yeah," before putting her lights out, which he follows up with, "Sorry, sweetheart." That's just the epitome of cool. There's not much else to say about Gordon other than his badassery since he's not a very deep character, aside from his personal connection to Godzilla, which is that he was the one who fired the missile that imprisoned him in the ice at the beginning of the film, but he's just so awesome and, despite his reckless and volatile attitude (you hear that he struck his superior in court, which landed him in a cell), dependable and fearless leader that it doesn't matter. Case in point: it's his idea to free Godzilla from his icy prison and let him take care of the other monsters while they take care of the Xiliens, a plan that seems futile since human civilization has already been squashed by the massive invasion. He, however, chalks it up to being a matter of pride, that they can either die hiding or die fighting. I don't think I need to say anything else other than to reiterate that this guy is one tough mofo and is the one human that you believe could take Godzilla!

On the villains' side, you have the two Xilien leaders: the general and his younger second-in-command. Interesting thing about the general is that he's played by Masato Ibu, who played the treacherous Sugiura back in Godzilla vs. Megaguirus, but for some reason, he's credited here as Masato Eve. That confused me when I read up on this film because I was sure I recognized the guy from Megaguirus but that had me thinking that maybe I was wrong and these two people just simply looked alike. However, a quick check on IMDB confirmed that it is the same guy and that the "Masato Eve" name is apparently some type of pseudonym he and some other actors have used on a few films. It's really weird. In any case, while both of them intend upon taking over the Earth and using humans as nourishment (cattle, as they describe it), the general is more interested in gaining the humans' trust and gradually taking over that way (although I wonder what the point would be), whereas his younger, more violent and impatient subordinate feels that they should use the power that they have to wipe them out in one fell swoop. And sure enough, when he gets the chance, the second-in-command (Kazuki Kitamura; no relation to the director) kills the general, takes over as the leader of the invasion force, and uses his ability to control both mutants and the monsters via M-base to completely destroy human civilization in one all-out war, leaving behind only that ragtag group of people from the Earth Defense Force to stop them. Not only that, but when this guy takes over, he proves just how completely crazy and deranged he is. He is without a doubt the nuttiest non-monster villain this series has ever seen. When he's not throwing over-the-top, stomping tantrums whenever something doesn't go his way, he's cackling like a maniac and doing a number of unexpected, wild hand and body gestures. You really have to see this guy's performance to get what I'm talking about, especially during the final battle when his hair's sticking up, making him come across as all the more crazy. Besides his insanity, he also genuinely feels that humans are beneath him and his race because of their role as cattle for them, feeling that they need to be put in their place and know who their masters are. To that end, he awakens Ozaki's untapped power in an attempt to control him and turn him against his friends but when that fails, he's disgusted with him for using his great power to serve "lowly humans." You learn that he himself is also a Keizer, which further compounds his feelings of disgust and betrayal towards Ozaki, leading into their final battle. While Ozaki, of course, does win the fight, the leader still refuses to let him emerge victorious and sets the mother-ship to blow in an attempt to ensure that they'll both die. Ozaki, however, uses his Keizer abilities to make it back to the Gotengo before mother-ship blows up in an enormous explosion. This bad guy is definitely an over-the-top villain for an over-the-top movie but, if nothing else, he's one of the series' most memorable non-monster characters.

As I said when I talked about Ozaki, I mentioned that his fellow mutant, Kazama (Kane Kosugi), gives him a hard time over his compassion and resistance to killing in order to finish a mission. The minute you read that, you probably rolled your eyes at the idea of yet another character who's antagonistic towards the lead but he's actually not as annoying or cliché you would expect him to be. Yes, when you first meet him, Kazama does come across as arrogant and obnoxious, telling Ozaki that all mutants were born to fight and that's their only purpose, not to defend people, and he also makes fun of him when he's assigned to act as Dr. Otonashi's bodyguard, saying that babysitting a girl suits him, but once those first scenes pass, he actually proves himself to be really cool. During an extended fight that the mutants have with Ebirah, Kazama shows how much of a badass he can be with his physical abilities and his handiness with a weapon as he and Ozaki manage to severely injure and subdue the giant crustacean. When they've got him on the ropes, Kazama climbs atop Ebirah and says, "Sorry, I'm a vegetarian," in English, no less, before preparing to finish the monster off. He doesn't get to kill Ebirah, however, since the Xilians then begin getting rid of the monsters but I still thought that was a cool line and a nice delivery. And that's another thing: Kazama speaks English a couple of times, even in the Japanese version. I don't know if it's Kosugi's real voice or not but, nevertheless, it's another aspect of him that I think is cool and he gets another great line when he and the others are facing off with some Xilien imposters. One of them acts like he's going to lunge at them and Kazama says, "Hey, watch it, X-man!" Again, it's a nice delivery. Predictably, though, Kazama succumbs to the influence of the Xilien leader like all of the other mutants except Ozaki and proves to be a major threat to the heroes when they attempt to get to the Gotengo in order to escape, getting into a high-speed motorcycle chase and fight with Ozaki. Ozaki manages to win the fight and knock Kazama unconscious, taking him with them in the Gotengo. When Kazama asks why he saved him, Ozaki says that it's because they're a team. Kazama doesn't do much else in the movie until the third act when he sacrifices himself to help the heroes by flying into the Xiliens' mother-ship and knocking out the shield that's keeping them from getting inside. He may have started off as arrogant but Kazama, despite his momentary manipulation by the Xilien leader, ultimately proves to be a likable and kind of cool guy.

Since Mothra is in this movie, that naturally means that the Shobijin (Masami Nagasawa and Chihiro Otsuka, the same women who portrayed them in the previous film) are here as well, although, to be honest, they could have been removed from the final movie because their presence doesn't amount to all that much. The most important thing that they do is inform Ozaki of the potential for malice within him, adding that he has a choice about which side he'll serve. They also give him an ancient amulet that ultimately breaks the Xilien leader's momentary control over him, although you could have just easily removed that and had Ozaki make the decision himself and break the control with a strong will (to that end, you could have given Dr. Otonashi more to do in the final act by having her remind him of who he's allied with, giving him the incentive to defy the leader). Aside from that, the Shobijin don't have much other purpose in the film aside from informing them of Gigan, which I don't think was necessary for them to know since Gigan hardly turns out to be the major threat of the film, and summon Mothra to help in the final battle, which, as I'll elaborate on later, could also have been removed to give Godzilla more opportunities to kick ass. One other thing I will say for all of you who get annoyed with the Shobijin's singing is that they don't do that here, which I think is an absolute first. And here's a little bit of useless trivia for you: this is the only movie to involve any version of the twin faeries that also doesn't have a larval Mothra (I am such a nerd!) In any case, while I don't hate them as I'm sure some people do, I still think that the Shobijin didn't need to be in this movie and couldn't have easily sat out along with Mothra herself.

Since it's a big anniversary film, you've got a lot of series' veterans present and accounted for, with some of them even getting to do more than simply pop up as cameos. Akira Takarada, whom we last saw in Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth, plays the UN Secretary General Daigo and, besides coming across as charming and likable as he always did (he smiles and laughs a lot in the film), he actually gets to take part in the big finale of the movie where he's running around with an alien gun and helping the heroes escape from the Xiliens' mother-ship. Plus, when he plays the Xilien imposter of his character, not only is he what arouses the heroes' suspicions that the aliens might not be as trustworthy as they claim but he's also the center of the movie's, and the entire series', most graphic effect where his head splits open and reveals what he truly is after he gets fatally shot. It's really cool that they actually gave him something to do other than just be there simply as a cameo. Kumi Mizuno is also here again, this time as EDF Commander Namikawa (the same name as her character back in Godzilla vs. Monster Zero), and while she doesn't have quite as much to do as Takarada, she still manages to get her good licks in, coming off as a bit threatening when she plays the Xilien imposter of her character and, like Takarada, taking part in the finale and firing an alien gun (although she gets injured during said firefight). Our old friend Kenji Sahara, who's been absent since Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla, is here again in the very small role of Dr. Jinguji, whom Otonashi assists in studying the mummified body of Gigan. He doesn't do nearly as much as Takarada and Mizuno, appearing in only a few scenes and just standing around, talking and observing at that, but it's nice to see him again. Akira Nakao and Koichi Ueda are here again briefly at the beginning of the movie as the captain and first mate of the Gotengo during the ship's battle with Godzilla and, according to IMDB, there are at least two other actors from the Heisei series here as well as at least one actor from each of the previous Millennium films. Don't ask me who they are, though, because I couldn't begin to tell you, although I do know that Shiro Sano is here briefly as the guy who stabs the imposter Daigo, providing the heroes with the blood sample they need to prove that he is indeed an imposter. As you can see, though, they really went all-out in making this the biggest anniversary film the series has ever seen.

As for what past films Godzilla: Final Wars acknowledges and which it ignores, your guess is as good as mine. All we're told in the intro is that endless wars and environmental pollution have resulted in the awakening and creation of hordes of giant monsters and we see clips from movies like Varan the Unbelievable, Frankenstein Conquers the World, and War of the Gargantuas, so we know that those films are counted as having occurred in this continuity, and we know for sure that, like all the previous Millennium films, the original Godzilla is counted... or is it? The narrator acknowledges that Godzilla, the Earth Defense Force's greatest enemy, made his first appearance in 1954 but nothing is mentioned about the Oxygen Destroyer or how a second Godzilla appeared in the first one's place afterward. Plus, during the film's dizzying opening credits sequences, we're bombarded with very fast, split-second clips from a lot of the past films, from all three series I might add, even though that would be impossible given the different timelines we've been through by this point. Maybe those clips and the revelation that Godzilla first appeared in 1954 are not meant to suggest that all of those specifics films occurred in this continuity but are merely there to represent past encounters and attacks the Earth has suffered from him. And then, if that's the case, maybe the same goes for the clips of those non-Godzilla films, in that they simply show what other monsters have popped up throughout the years in addition to the Big G, which would make sense you also see shots of Titanosaurus from Terror of Mechagodzilla and Megaguirus herself, monsters from two movies that couldn't possibly exist in the same continuity. Or maybe we should take these clips' presence simply as a sign that our director is a big fan and is showing how much he loves this genre and this franchise in particular. That's ultimately how I look at it, because you've also got the years counting up to 2004, which could be seen simply as a lightning-fast recap of all the years that Godzilla's been in the public eye. You could wrack your brain and try to figure out where this film fits but I'd suggest not doing that because you really will drive yourself crazy. (I think Shogo Tomiyama himself realized that early on because one idea was to have this Godzilla be Junior, whom we saw as an adult at the end of Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, but they ultimately decided not to open that can of worms and overcomplicate things.)

As a big, sprawling movie filled with lots of monsters and, without a doubt, the most special effects ever seen in one of these films, it goes without saying that Godzilla: Final Wars is all over the map. However, that's not limited simply to the action, visuals, and the fact that there are a number scenes that take place on other continents (with most of them having been filmed in those actual locations). The tone of the film tends to jump around as well, which is something I know a lot of people have problems with. Sometimes the movie is fairly serious, whereas other times it goes so over-the-top that it almost becomes a farce. The most blatant example of this is a scene in "New York City" where a cop confronts a pimp. Not only does this cop not talk the way a cop from New York would (he says words like, "freaking," and, "bust you up," when you know he's dying to say something else; in fact, he may have because he looks dubbed, even in the Japanese version) but this pimp looks like he's from the 70's, with his ridiculous fluffy coat, red tie, and Elton John-like glasses. And his car is this tacky, pink thing that reminds of what Robocop had use to in a chase in RoboCop 3. The first time I saw that, I was put off by it, thinking, "Are you serious? Is this what the Japanese think New York is like?" Not to mention that you have scenes with Godzilla kicking a lot of monster ass interspersed with cutesy stuff involving Minya trying to get to his dad and joining up with this old hunter and his grandfather in doing so. And I can't forget the scene at the South Pole where, in the station built next to the spot where Godzilla is buried in ice, you have these two goofy-looking guys (one's wearing a Hawaiian-style shirt and the other a bright-red muscle shirt) who are listening to the soundtrack to Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla! I like that music and can see myself listening to it whenever I'm lounging around the house, so it was a nice treat to hear that, but still, when you put it into context, it's plain weird. Besides that, the Western touches and mixing of genres in this film really throw me sometimes. We've had American actors in lead and supporting roles in these films before, as well as the Japanese actors speaking English from time to time, especially in the Heisei series, but it's strange for me to see a former MMA fighter in a movie like this when you'd expect to see him in some big, American action movie like The Expendables, not to mention the moments where people seemed to be dubbed in English even in the Japanese version. And would you ever expect to a song from Sum 41 on the soundtrack of a Godzilla movie, let alone in the original Japanese version? Well, you do here. All of these elements, plus others that we'll get more into presently like the Matrix-esque fight scenes involving the mutants and the highly stylized look of the film, help make Final Wars often look and sound like no other Godzilla movie. While it doesn't completely ruin the movie for me, I can see why it would turn off so many others.

Back in my introduction, I said that a couple of the ingredients that make up Final Wars were the X-Men, comic books in general, and The Matrix, and the main reason for that is the inclusion of mutants. Does this concept of select people born with special powers not sound straight out of the X-Men and similar comic books? The only difference is that, instead of being shunned by society at large, they're instead embraced by the Earth Defense Force and used as the main method of defending the planet from giant monsters. They may not have the same powers as the actual X-Men but they do have the essentials: accelerated strength, speed, and agility, which lead into those wild, insane fight scenes that we'll get more into later. Plus, Ozaki, being a particularly powerful type of mutant known as a Keizer, is able to do more advanced stuff, including redirecting a wall of laser-blasts in a shot that's virtually identical to the famous bullet-time sequences in The Matrix. As for the mutants' origins, you find out that they're the interbred descendants of humans and Xiliens, which is why they share a piece of DNA known as M-base. The M-base is what gives them their special abilities and apparently, it's also found in the genetic makeup of a number of monsters. The downside to the M-base, though, is that beings who have it within them can be controlled by a Keizer, which is how the Xiliens were able to gain control of both the monsters (they even reorganized the genetic structure of some of them to include M-base) and the mutants and why it took another Keizer such as Ozaki to ultimately defeat them. Bet you never expected me to describing this in a Godzilla review, did you? It's stuff like this that makes Final Wars unique.

Giving us another over-the-top, comic book ingredient as well as a callback to the series' heyday are updated versions of the people from Planet X, dubbed here as the Xiliens. While they're very different from the aliens seen in Godzilla vs. Monster Zero in both visuals and concept, the black visors that they wear are a definite throwback to their 1960's predecessors. In any case, like the aliens in that previous film, the Xiliens make their presence known with a message of peace and friendship towards the people of Earth and even offer to help save them from an oncoming planet known as Gorath that will collide with Earth and destroy it if it's not stopped. Predictably, though, their true intentions are much more sinister, since, like all alien races, they want to take over the Earth through the use of monsters and mutants. However, unlike all previous alien races that we've seen in these movies, the Xiliens' purpose comes down to nourishment: they feed on the mitochondria within our cells and plan to turn Earth into an enormous farm, using the human race as mere cattle. Not only are they able to control anything with M-base within it through telepathic means but they're also able to create imposters of important people like Secretary General Daigo and EDF Commander Namikawa in order to further ensure the human population's trust. Their ruse, however, is revealed since the imposters, like the Xiliens themselves, don't blink, and when they're killed, the human flesh breaks open to reveal their true form, which is a silver, android-like look. It's hinted that this is the real form of the actual Xiliens as well, given the moment when Gordon asks the leader to show his real face and he responds, "Well, I rather like this face." They have an enormous invasion fleet that allows them to teleport the monsters under their control to wherever they want as well as to fight off any human resistance, as demonstrated when all-out war breaks out during the film's latter half. The mother-ship is an enormous sphere with little landing legs on its underside that make it look like a big, swelled up tick and the inside of it is just as enormous and out there in design with the orange color and interesting look of the walls and whatnot (although, you have to wonder if even it was big enough to store all the monsters when they weren't using them).

You'll notice that, up to this point, I haven't mentioned Godzilla himself all that much and that's because he's but one of a myriad of different elements that make up this movie, which I think was a bit of mistake. While the other stuff going on is entertaining, it would have been nice if Godzilla was focused on a little more than he is. In fact, after the opening where you see him get buried in ice at the South Pole, he doesn't come back into the film for another hour and while that's not entirely uncommon, so much other stuff has happened since then that you could easily forget that you're watching a Godzilla movie. But, all that said, when Godzilla finally does get into the movie full-time, it's well worth the wait because, like Captain Gordon, this iteration of the Big G is an absolute badass. He's stronger, more agile, and more powerful than he's ever been before, able to wipe out 98% of the monsters he takes on here with no trouble whatsoever and in less than two minutes each. He also has a defined personality to him, which is refreshing after two movies of him being just a blank slate and finally gives Tsutomu Kitagawa something to do performance-wise besides just going through the motions. This Godzilla takes no shit, will vanquish anyone that dares to challenge him, monster or otherwise, never gives up during a fight, and, most significantly of all, has a well-defined, searing hatred for mankind. Not only does he hate humans for their experimenting with atomic weapons that turned him into what he is now and also caused massive destruction, as the old man traveling with Minya and his grandson describes, but as soon as he's released from his icy prison, he recognizes the Gotengo and goes after it, remembering the battle they were caught up in before they buried him. The heroes are able to use his aggression to their advantage by having him follow them back to Tokyo, battling any monsters that he runs into on the way, where he unknowingly helps them defeat the Xiliens by battling their ultimate weapon, Monster X, while they take on the aliens themselves. But, once the war is won, Godzilla shows that he hasn't forgotten who his original enemies were and goes on the attack against the Gotengo again. He almost finishes off the crew but Minya quickly intervenes, standing between him and the humans and holding his hands out, as if he's telling him, "Dad, that's enough!" Even the grandfather who's been traveling with Minya tells Godzilla that, saying, "You must forgive them." I don't know for sure if Godzilla does forgive mankind for how they wronged him in the past or if he's just tired after all of the fighting he's been through and also doesn't want to risk hurting his son but, whatever the case, he does decide to let it go and heads home, with Minya joining him.

As you can see, Godzilla is quite physically fit in this movie, with much less bulk to his body in favor of a more athletically trim look. Ryuhei Kitamura wanted to harken back to the slimmer design that he had throughout the majority of the Showa era and, judging from how it turned out, I think it's safe to say that he succeeded. With more slender arms and legs and less bulk and muscle to slow him down, Godzilla is able to move faster and with more agility than he ever has before, allowing for more physically impressive fight scenes rather than simple energy beam exchanges. I know that Tsutomu Kitagawa appreciated the nature of this suit since it allowed him more freedom of movement, with his arms, hands, and legs fitting perfectly inside it, and wasn't nearly as heavy as the previous ones that he wore. I know I've heard him describe it as the best one he ever had to work with. The dorsal plates are also a callback to the way they looked in the majority of the Showa films, with a large middle row in-between two smaller ones (although, those left and right rows here are not as tiny as those in the classic films were) and are quite pointy as well. Like a lot of the past suits, the most distinguishing thing about this one is the head. While it vaguely looks like the general head design that had been used for the Millennium series, it's a bit smaller, isn't as wide, and is much meaner-looking with its furled eyebrows and dark eyes. Godzilla's face isn't as expressive in this film and always comes across as looking mad at the world, which fits with his portrayal here, as do the dark eyes, which I'm usually not a fan of but am willing to let slide in this instance. I also think that this head has the more prominent ears of any of the suits since they really stick out even in wide-shots. His atomic blast is extremely powerful here, able to incinerate his enemies in massive explosions and he has such great aim with it that he can use it to blow up objects that haven't even entered Earth's atmosphere yet! The addition of Ozaki's Keizer energy enables him to very easily, and brutally, kill the newly transformed Keizer Ghidorah, topping it off by throwing its body up into the sky, past the atmosphere, and then blowing it up with one last mighty blast (Godzilla even does a nice body turn before he fires). And as you've probably guessed, they keep the loud, bell-like roar that he's had throughout the Millennium series along with the vocalizations that are straight out of the Showa films, including that metal-creaking sound he sometimes makes.

Well, it's time for the full monster role-call because there are a ton of kaiju running around here, more so than any other Japanese monster movie ever made (as a result, you'll notice that many of the suit actors are pulling double or even triple duty). A lot of these guys haven't been seen since the Showa era and while most of them don't have much to them other than acting as weapons for the Xiliens and getting beaten up by Godzilla, it's a great nostalgia trip to see them again after so long. They all have the same general design as before, just updated, and most of them have their classic roars and abilities, which is nice. Rodan (Naoko Kamio) is here with a design that's very similar to the way he looked back in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II, just with a brighter color scheme, and he uses his classic supersonic shockwaves to wreak havoc in New York City and in other parts of the world. He's shown flying with much more speed and agility than he ever has before but he's still no match for Godzilla, who manages to trounce him along with Anguirus and King Caesar in a three-on-one fight. Speaking of Anguirus (Toshihiro Ogura), he makes his first appearance in a movie in 30 years here, sporting a nice redesign with a different color scheme (olive, to be precise), a bulkier body, and a wider, more wedge-shaped head. While he still has no special powers and has to rely on his teeth, claws, and spikes in order to fight, he's now able to roll himself up in a ball and fire himself at amazing speed and with devastating results (a move they took from the video games). And out of all of the monsters that Godzilla battles here, Anguirus, instead of immediately attacking him, appears to recognize him and the two of them have something of a roaring conversation before it apparently goes south and the fight begins. King Caesar (Motokuni Nakagawa) is mainly here because Ryuhei Kitamura loves Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and also because, according to Wikipedia, he's actually his favorite kaiju. To each their own, I guess, but man, Kitamura sure can pick them up. In any case, there's nothing special about King Caesar here. His redesign looks nice (as nice as he can look, anyway, although his face is really dopey-looking), not coming across as ratty or moldy as the original suit did, but he mainly just destroys stuff (in Okinawa, where the climax of Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla was set) with the other monsters and takes part in the three-on-one fight with Godzilla. Like Anguirus and Rodan, he only has his physical abilities and agility to fight with and while he does last the longest of the three, Godzilla still ultimately kicks the crap out of him and sends him onto the heap with the rest of them. I would have never imagined that Ebirah (Toshihiro Oruga), the giant crustacean from Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, would ever appear in another movie since he's such a generic creature but, nope, here he is. His redesign is more akin to a real animal, with a smaller head and more realistic-looking claws, and he actually comes on land and destroys a factory near Tokyo, something that he never did before, but he's very easily killed by Godzilla, along with Hedorah (I'll get to him in a bit). Kamacuras and Kumonga, the giant mantis and tarantula that both first appeared in Son of Godzilla, make brief appearances here and are both created by a mixture of puppets and CGI. Kamacuras is green now instead of orange, moves much more fluidly and more like a real insect thanks to the CG, is able to fly, which it couldn't before, and now has the ability to blend in with its surroundings using very effective camouflage. While it does some damage in Paris, it ultimately proves to not even be a match for Godzilla, who kills it without breaking a sweat. As for Kumonga, its design is virtually unchanged and, besides being able to jump fair distances, it can also now shoot webbing that expands into a net to cover Godzilla. Godzilla, however, manages to turn the tables on it when it does this and swing it around before throwing it over the horizon. Kumonga is also the monster that we see do the least amount of damage, which is destroying a trailer in Arizona.

While many of the monsters I think were used as effectively as they could have been, there are others who I feel either got the short end of the stick and had more potential or didn't need to be here at all. The one that I really feel is wasted is Gigan (Kazuhiro Yoshida). This is the first time this really cool monster has been in a movie since the Showa era and he's built up as a legitimate threat, being described as evil by the Shobijin, battled Mothra centuries ago, and has a lot of M-base within him. Not only that but his redesign is by far the best of any of the monsters in this movie, with his slimmer body, larger and more angular claws, and a myriad of razor-sharp points on his body, and he also has some new weapons to play with, including an eye-laser (the first time he's ever actually had this in a movie, although he was depicted firing it on the promotional materials for past films), chained hooks that he can fire from his claws, and spear-like tail that serves him well in combat. And yet, despite all of this promise, Gigan does very little in the film. He causes a little bit of havoc when the Xiliens turn the Earth into a warzone once their real intentions are revealed and he's dropped at the South Pole after Godzilla is released from his icy prison but their fight is very short, lasting less than a minute and results in Gigan getting his head blasted off. That fight should have been a lot longer and should have shown Gigan making better use of his weapons. Now, Gigan is repaired and is given an upgrade, with double-chainsaws on each of his limbs and the ability to fire razor-sharp discs from his pectorals, but he fights Mothra here more than Godzilla, although he does briefly assist Monster X in battling him. He manages to fatally injure Mothra by setting her aflame but Gigan ends up cutting his own head off with those discs, which is followed by Mothra using her flaming body to cause Gigan to explode. Again, that could have been a much better fight than it was and it sucks that this new, awesomely redesigned Gigan got killed so easily and never got a real fight with Godzilla. Speaking of Mothra, I still feel that she and the Shobijin didn't need to be in this movie. All she does is fight Gigan during the climactic battle, isn't able to do much against him except use her speed and agility, and ends up getting herself killed along with the cyborg. I know it helped out Godzilla, who currently had his hands full with Monster X, but it would have been more dramatic if Mothra had been left out and Godzilla had to take on both Monster X and Gigan by himself and would have made for a bigger cheer moment when he finally does come out on top. I don't why they even bothered putting Hedorah (Kazuhiro Yoshida) in this film because he does absolutely nothing other than get killed. He's not part of the Xiliens' initial attack on Earth with the monsters, he doesn't fight Godzilla at all, and, in fact, as some sources have suggested, it seems like he was merely in the wrong place at the wrong time and got caught up with Ebirah in the beam the Xiliens use to teleport the monsters. Ebirah ultimately ends up piercing his eye and Godzilla vaporizes them both, which is embarrassing since, if you remember back in Godzilla vs. Hedorah, he was one of the toughest opponents Godzilla ever faced. A deleted shot of him firing his sulfuric acid is seen during the ending credits but it's not enough to redeem him, nor is his decent, albeit not as creepy, look here. Manda, the giant serpent from the movie Atragon who had a supporting role in Destroy All Monsters, isn't even part of the Xilien invasion and never crosses paths with Godzilla since he's seen battling the Gotengo after the opening credits, a fight that he ultimately loses since he can't do anything other than swim really fast and constrict the ship like a snake. And finally, you have Zilla, the American Godzilla from the 1998 film who is portrayed here as his own character. The reason I put him in this section is because, while I know they had Godzilla kill him so easily in order to show how inferior he was as well as to simply give a middle finger to Roland Emmerich and company, I think it would have been more satisfying for fans to have Godzilla really make him suffer and put him through a lot of pain before finishing him off. It would have distracted from the point of the movie but, the fights with the mutants and Xiliens can count as such so what would have been the harm of seeing Godzilla brutalize this imposter? That would have been much more telling on Toho's part and more of a joy for fans in my opinion, but that's just me. (By the way, note that Zilla is the only monster here that's rendered completely in CGI and is done so fairly poorly. I don't know if that was all due to the budget and wasn't actually intentional by the filmmakers.)

Only two of the other monsters have more importance to the plot other than acting as mere weapons for Xiliens and opponents for Godzilla. One of them is Minya (Naoko Kamio), whose presence here made a lot of people roll their eyes, I'm sure, given how hated he is (although, if you remember back, I've never held any ill-will towards him myself). In any case, I like the nice updating of his classic design from the Showa series, in how it honors the way he looked before and is close enough to where you can identify him as Minya but, at the same time, is still a more sophisticated and modern take on it. Plus, I think it makes him look cuter and not quite as homely as he was before. His powers and abilities here are odd, though, because they make for something of a combination of his portrayals in both Son of Godzilla and Godzilla's Revenge. As in the former movie, he can mostly just spit radioactive smoke-rings but is occasionally able to shoot a beam of atomic energy, and as in the latter, he can actually change his size from that of a human to a quarter the size of Godzilla (he doesn't talk, though, thank God). Instead of the cooing and chittering sounds he made before, his vocalizations here consist of more animalistic noises that sound like several different noises that have been overlaid in the mixing. As for his role in the movie, it seems at first to be nothing more than to provide comic relief via the cute interactions he has with the old man and the kid who find him and escort him across the countryside in order to follow his father. However, at the very end of the movie, Minya and the two humans arrive in the destroyed Tokyo just as Godzilla is about to attack the band of heroes and stands between them, holding his arms out like he's telling his dad, "Don't hurt them!" This instance of Minya standing up to his father, combined with the boy standing up to his grandfather when he attempts to shoot Godzilla, is what ultimately defuses the war from going on any further, with Godzilla deciding to let the humans live and heading home, with Minya right behind him. Other than giving Godzilla something else to actually care about back in Son of Godzilla, this has to be the most significant action Minya has ever taken in any of his film appearances. Like I described earlier, whether or not he actually inspired his father to let go of his hatred for mankind is debatable but, if nothing else, he kept him from attacking the heroes and making the battle drag on more than it needed to.

The other really significant monster in the film is the Xiliens' ultimate weapon whom Godzilla battles during the climax: Monster X, who's eventually revealed to be Ghidorah in a particularly powerful iteration called Keizer Ghidorah. Monster X (Motokuni Nakagawa) first appears out of a comet that Godzilla blows up in outer space with his atomic blast, slowly descending from the sky behind him and landing on the ground to begin their fight. Monster X's design is utterly bizarre: it's a skeletal, bipedal creature with a smaller, elongated head on either side of its large, main one, creepy-looking red eyes, and a long, skinny tail whose tip curves off in two directions. The creature, however, proves to be as formidable a fighter as it is strange-looking. It's very agile and is able to match Godzilla physically and in combat, to the point where it's able to literally bring Godzilla to his knees for one moment during their fight. It can fire gravity beams from the eyes of its heads that are just as potent as Godzilla's atomic blast (which, I might add, Monster X simply shrugs even when it gets blasted at point-blank range, while every other monster got instantly incinerated by it) and is also able to levitate for short moments. Monster X proves to be the one opponent that Godzilla faces here that he has a hard time defeating, particularly when Gigan joins up with it in kicking him down at one point, and, like I said, even manages to get him on the ropes a few times. And even though Godzilla does manage to get his second-wind and turn the tables on Monster X, the beast then shows that it's far from beaten when it transforms into the even more powerful Keizer Ghidorah (Toshihiro Ogura). (If you're a major Godzilla fan, it probably won't be that much of a surprise that Monster X turns out to be Ghidorah since that codename is much like Monster Zero and we are dealing with the Xiliens again.) As you can see, there's no other way to describe Keizer Ghidorah other than to say that it's King Ghidorah on steroids and a little more demonic-looking (I like that it has front limbs now, adding a feeling of height and power to it). Like before, Ghidorah's ultimate weapon are the beams that it shoots from its mouth, which can now be definitively called gravity beams whereas before, they were just lightning bolts. Not only are they perhaps even more powerful than Godzilla's atomic blast but Ghidorah can also manipulate the direction they travel in and can use them to throw objects at Godzilla. Once it changes into this form, Godzilla is absolutely helpless against it, with Ghidorah beating him down and then grabbing hold of him with its mouths in order to suck his energy. This very nearly kills Godzilla and it's only when Ozaki gives him some of his Keizer energy that he's able to turn the tables and kill Ghidorah. Monster X's vocalizations sound akin to those of big cats, whereas Keizer Ghidorah lets out a cackling that sounds like a much more diabolical and maniacal version of its classic Showa voice.

Believe it or not, all of these monsters are not the only concrete throwbacks to past films here. The heroes' main ship, the Gotengo, is from the 1963 film Atragon, the same movie that the monster Manda first appeared in, and its design here is more or less a modern update of the way it looked originally. While it's no match for Godzilla, save for the beginning of the movie when they get lucky and an earthquake helps them bury him in ice, it does prove itself to be a pretty tough ship, able to destroy Manda and take on a number of Xilien fighters at once with its missiles and freezing maser cannon. This is what makes for some battle sequences here that are right out of Star Wars. The other ships that the Earth Defense Force has at its disposal are similar to the Gotengo and do manage to hold their own against the monsters that they're sent out to battle but they're overwhelmed and destroyed when the all-out war breaks out an hour in. In addition, the planet Gorath that the Xiliens claim will soon crash into the Earth, completely destroying it, is straight out of a 1962 movie of the same name (said movie is most notable for a sequence in the original Japanese version that features a giant walrus creature called Maguma).

Even for an entry in a series that has built a good chunk of its popularity and success on special effects, the effects work in Godzilla: Final Wars is truly something to behold. There are more effects shots here than in any previous entry (or possibly in any Japanese sci-fi movie ever made, for that matter) and not a penny is wasted. Every shot counts. The monster suits are real knockouts, with great animatronics built into them for realistic expressions; the matte shots are absolutely stunning, with a number of them being so good that they would make for great paintings (the part where the Xiliens show a group of the humans a hologram of Gorath traveling through space is particularly unreal); the model-work and miniature sets are the best that the series has ever seen; and even the CGI, the effects department that the Millennium series has had the most problems with, looks great, save for some wonky shots here and there. The film's enormous scope makes the effects even more spectacular and lets you know that you're not watching a cheap, bottom-of-the-barrel monster movie, like some of the more unimpressive past flicks like Godzilla's Revenge and such, but a big-budget love letter to the entire kaiju genre (think Pacific Rim, only not as big as what Guillermo del Toro had to work with). There are pretty nice makeup effects as well, particularly a quite graphic one where the imposter  Daigo's head splits open to reveal its true form after he's fatally shot. And, as you can tell from the screenshots you've seen so far, and from those you will see in the following paragraphs, the film has a unique, visual style all its own. Ryuhei Kitamura gives the movie an exaggerated, comic book look to it, with the individual scenes having very rich, vivid color palettes ranging from very bright blues and oranges to deep greens. Even those scenes that are shot more or less like a normal film have a heightened feel to them, with the lighting being very bright and often flaring, like the Earth is right next to the sun in those instances. That really threw me the first time I saw the movie because I'd never seen a Godzilla movie that looked like that, letting me know that this was going to be something I'd never experienced before. I have mixed feelings about the visual style, though. While it is nice to look at and gives the film its own identity, I've always preferred that movies look normal rather than like graphic novels put to film. I know that this stylized look is necessary for films like Sin City and 300 but, still, I don't know why but there's just something about this exaggerated visual style that kind of turns me off. I don't know what it is but it's just the way I feel, even though there are films with this look that I do enjoy (Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead comes to mind). One thing I can't deny about Godzilla: Final Wars, though, is it's the series' most visually distinctive entry and has some of the most amazing effects work it's ever seen as well.

Oh, boy, as if this review wasn't long enough already, now it's time for the breakdown of the monster and action scenes and, with a movie that's 125 minutes long and is almost continuous action, this going to be lengthy as hell. This breakdown will probably involve the most non-monster action and chase scenes of any of these reviews since they're just as big a part of the movie as the fights involving the monsters, with extended, over-the-top, Matrix-style fight scenes with the mutants and the Xiliens and a few spaceship battles that are more akin to something you'd see in Star Wars (I apologize for the sparseness of images pertaining to those scenes; most of the images I found focused on the monster action). Also, the editing-style in this movie is often very rapid and lightning-quick, including the opening credits, which whiz by so fast that I can't read all of them or watch the images accompanying them unless I pause every single one, so that's going to make things all the more interesting. Well, I think I'd better quit stalling and get started here. You ready? Here we go.

You know from the start that this is going to be a big love-fest for the franchise because it begins with the classic Toho-Scope logo and Akira Ifukube's first rough iteration of the Godzilla theme that was heard in King Kong vs. Godzilla. Following a drawing of Godzilla, the movie itself begins with a push-in of a shot of a snowy landscape with a wrecked tank in the foreground, followed up by some cuts and dissolves that reveal the Big G backlit against the night sky. Some more cutaways reveal other destroyed weapons such as a maser and we finally see Godzilla in the full light, with small explosions and sparks popping around him. He roars at the camera as the Gotengo drills its way through the ice to confront him, while a location card informs us that we're at the South Pole. They begin firing on him with their gun turrets as he stomps towards them, which he retaliates with an atomic blast that hits the ship dead on. While it doesn't destroy the craft, it shakes up those inside of it and shorts out some of the equipment. They end up crashing into the snow, with Godzilla looming in front of them, but the captain tells them to fire again. Before they can, though, the place begins shaking from a violent earthquake and a huge rift shreds through the ice and snow around Godzilla, dragging him down into a large fissure. Seeing their chance, the captain orders the ship's missiles to be fired at the nearby mountain, which one of his mates does while yelling loudly. The missiles hit the peak, starting a massive avalanche that completely seals Godzilla within the fissure. Everyone aboard the Gotengo cheers upon having finally defeated the King of the Monsters, as the camera pulls back from a shot of the ship stuck in the ice, up through the clouds and settling on a shot of the Earth itself. We're then given a history lesson about the awakening of numerous monsters, the foundation of the Earth Defense Force, the discovery of mutants and the foundation of their own unit known as the M Organization, and the revelation that their greatest enemy is Godzilla. Following Godzilla's thunderous roar from the original Godzilla, we get the dizzying opening title sequence with lightning-fast clips from many of the past movies and credits that, again, you have to pause in order to read. After the opening credits, we get a couple more glimpses of Godzilla, with the film cutting back and forth between a backlit shot of him (actually of Junior from the end of Godzilla vs. Destoroyah) and shots of him still frozen in ice.

We then get our actual story underway, cutting to the ocean floor off the coast of Normandy as the Gotengo drills up through seabed with the giant serpent Manda wrapped around it. This is when we get our first shot of Captain Gordon and the main mutants, Ozaki and Kazama, as they to wrench the monster off of them. One of his subordinates says that they must surface but Gordon orders for them to stay on course towards an underwater volcano. As they chug onward through the murk, Manda tightens his grip around the Gotengo, shorting out some of the equipment, while the technicians say that they've reached the ship's maximum depth. Increased pressure allows surges of water to enter the control room and more pieces of equipment to explode in sparks but Gordon is unfazed by this. Upon approaching the crater of the volcano, Gordon orders missiles to be fired, which hit the rim of the crater and cause a small eruption. Gordon orders the Gotengo to be piloted right into it. The ship travels right above the agitated lava but, despite the rise in temperature, Gordon again tells them to stay on course. Manda continues attempting to bite the ship's hull while the technicians begin to drop from the heat and the spreading damage. However, that's when Manda fills the full force of the heat, with his head catching on fire, and untangles the Gotengo in order to swim away from the lava. Gordon orders them to now surface but, as they head up, they see that Manda is still chasing them. He orders the ship to be turned around to face the monster and once it is, with the force of it sending one guy flying across the control room, Kazama heads directly at Manda. As Manda approaches, Gordon is told that the automatic lock-on is down, prompting him to order Ozaki to switch over to manual. Ozaki then takes off the targeting helmet he'd been wearing up to that point and right when Manda is almost on top of them, Gordon orders him to fire the maser. With one blast of the weapon, Manda's entire body is frozen solid, with the Gotengo then smashing it to pieces by plowing through it. Everyone is relieved that they've survived the battle when Gordon is told that they've got a call from the base. The image of a very perturbed Commander Namikawa appears on the video screen in front of him and she proceeds to tell that, due to his reckless actions, he won't escape court martial. Gordon, however, is not at all intimidated and tells Namikawa to shut her mouth before ordering the Gotengo to return to base.

From there, we cut to a training exercise between Ozaki and Kazama in a very tight training area back at HQ. The two kick at the same time and then trade a number of swift punches and blocks before Ozaki gets kicked against the wall. He manages to dodge Kazama's next kick and lays in some of his own before the two of them trade in some more shots. Kazama jumps up and knocks Ozaki off-balance but when he goes in for a kick, Ozaki grabs his leg and flings him up towards the wall. Ozaki swings his leg at Kazama but he jumps off the wall and lands behind him, blocks a kick, and gives him some swift punches to the gut that slam him against the wall. He turns around and manages to dodge and grab Kazama's leg again, slamming against the wall to the left before throwing him off to the right. Kazama lands on his feet and the two then run along the walls before jumping at and catching each other in mid-air. Kazama manages to get Ozaki in arm-lock and after a camera spin where see them frozen in this position in mid-air, they fall to the floor, with the rough impact causing Kazama to loosen his grip and allowing Ozaki to turn the tables momentarily. After an arm snap, Ozaki gets off and goes in fro a dropkick but Kazama catches his leg and flings him up in the air, with Ozaki managing to do a flip to land on his feet. They trade a couple of more kicks when Ozaki jumps straight up and lands on top of Kazama, putting his hand to his throat in a threatening manner. Ozaki, however, doesn't follow-up on this threat, allowing Kazama to knock him up against a chain grill on the nearby wall. Kazama then charges and jumps at Ozaki, grabbing him around the collar of his uniform and squeezing. That's when the training is ended by the arrival of one of their superiors, who tells Ozaki that if this were a real scenario, he would be dead. After putting Kazama in his place when he acts arrogant over having won, the commander tells Ozaki to report to him later. Everyone then leaves, and that's when Ozaki and Kazama have a tense conversation about what mutants are supposed to do and what they're born for, with Kazama telling Ozaki that his softness would get him killed on the battlefield. Things slow down to a casual pace for a bit, with Ozaki being assigned to act as Dr. Miyuki Otonashi's bodyguard, with the two of them getting off on the wrong foot immediately, and their arrival at the Defense Force Museum, where we first see the mummified Gigan. Following a brief scene where we see Anna Otonashi talking to UN Secretary General Daigo, we get a scene where the Shobijin reveal themselves to Ozaki, Miyuki, and Dr. Jinguji by giving them a vision of a cave on Infant Island. They explain to them what Gigan is, how Mothra battled him 12,000 years ago, and warn Ozaki that mutants have the same potential for evil in their blood. After telling him that he has a choice to serve either good or evil, the Shobijin transport them back to their lab, where Ozaki then realizes that he's holding an ancient talisman, while the Shobijin's voices tell him to take it.

All hell begins breaking loose next as Daigo's plane is destroyed by an enormous, flying creature on the way to New York. The film then cuts to Manhattan, where that pimp I mentioned earlier comes outside to find his car being towed and threatens the cop with his self-proclaimed "hand-cannon," declaring, "I'll blow yo ass all the way back to Jersey!" The cop pulls out his own gun in response but the standoff doesn't go more than a few seconds when a nearby drunk who's watching the action yells, "Holy shit! It's a big birdy!" (Again, watch the cop's lip movements in this scene; he's been dubbed and seems to be saying, "Fuck," in his dialogue.) That's when the cop sees the pimp look up as a terrified expression spreads across his face. Keeping the gun on him, the cop slowly turns around to see Rodan come flying above the buildings at them, with the gusts of wind he creates blowing both his and the pimp's hats off before the sonic boom blows them away along with the vehicles. Rodan circles the Empire State Building and lands on a nearby building, crushing through the roof, before he unfurls his wings and screeches up into the sky. A roadblock of onlookers forms on the nearby street and Rodan responds by flight down the side of the building, with his sonic boom shattering it and sending debris flying across those cars, crushing a couple of them, before zooming straight down block and destroying all of the buildings he passes. He then flies off, as the Earth Defense Force HQ get word of his attack. As they decide to deploy Operation Rumbling to deal with Rodan and also try to figure out what happened to Daigo, reports of other monster attacks come in. Anguirus is reported in Shanghai, with Commander Namikawa responding by ordering Karyu, one of their attack vehicles, to be dispatched to take care of him. They're then told that King Caesar is attacking Okinawa, Kamacuras is in Paris, and Sydney is under attack as well. Cutting to a Sydney, a tower is destroyed and people are sent running as Zilla stomps into view. One guy is so panicked that he slams into a display of soda cans, while Zilla grabs a truck with his mouth and begins shaking it back and forth (an obvious nod to a moment in Godzilla '98). More people run as Zilla destroys the truck by crunching it in his mouth, with several chefs running down an alleyway. Cutting to Shanghai, we see Anguirus marching down a street, honking loudly, as hundreds of panicked people clog a nearby street in an attempt to escape, with one guy slamming into a fruit-stand. Next, we cut to Okinawa, where King Caesar marches through a factory, causing massive explosions all around him as he does so. Going back to Sydney, the panic is still on, with a large blast of fire heading down the street as two frightened guys in an another street see Zilla round the corner in front of them. Upon seeing them, he charges down the street after them and although they do run, one guy trips and falls, with his buddy running back to try to get him up. This proves to be fatal for both of them as Zilla lunges down at them with his mouth.

Kamacuras flies through the skies above Paris, circling the Eifel Tower and causing some small fires from the force of its flying before coming to land on top of an arch. It looks around for a bit and then flies at the camera, with the film cutting to the surprised expression on some American guy's face. The guy, however, is mad because his TV reception went out and, after an outside shot and a location card inform us that he's sitting in a trailer in Arizona, Kumonga makes its presence known by destroying the trailer with a swipe of its claw before hopping off. Another cut shows a kid violently playing with monster action figures and actually throwing one into a fireplace after calling it a loser (note that the figure was of a turtle, which may have been a not so subtle swipe at Gamera). After a location card tells us that this is Vancouver, the kid then sees a news report on TV about the global monster attack, getting real excited when he sees footage of Anguirus stomping through Shanghai (by the way, is it me or did I briefly hear Ghidorah cackle right before Anguirus honked on the TV?) The kid, who has chocolate all over his mouth, then gets up and runs for his mother, as we cut back to the panic in Shanghai, with people running for their lives as Anguirus continues to tear the place up. He then stops and looks up to see the EDF combat vehicle Karyu appear in the skies above him. The captain orders missiles fired and while they do hit their mark, Anguirus brushes them off. They then attempt to hit him with the maser but he jumps out of the way of the beam, causing them to blow up a building instead. They continue firing the beam, attempting to hit him as he lands on a nearby street, but he jumps again and shows off his talent for curling up into a ball and through the heart of the city to outrun the beam. They continue chasing him with the beam but, again, all they manage to do is blow up buildings while trying to zap him. Back in New York, Rodan is being chased by another attack vehicle, which manages to get him from behind with some missiles. Meanwhile, at Mt. Fuji, an old hunter comes across Minya, who peeks from behind a rock and quickly ducks back behind it when the guy points his rifle at him. He gets the little monster in his sights and threatens to shoot him but his grandson steps in front of him and holds his arms out, telling him not to shoot. It takes a little bit of persuading but the old man does lower his rifle and his grandson turns around to comfort Minya, while the hunter demands to know what he is. In Paris, Kamacuras has landed atop the EDF vehicle sent to kill it and is smashing into the armor with its claws. Things begin to look bleak for them as they begin to take extensive damage but they manage to fire some missiles that swing around and hit Kamacuras on the back, although this doesn't dissuade its attack one bit.

At the Tokai Petrochemical Complex, Ebirah has come ashore and is smashing everything in sight with his claws. Defense forces made up of tanks arrive and fire on the giant crustacean but he responds by smashing more parts of the factory and crushing the tanks with the debris. As more explosions erupt through the complex, the soldiers attempt to evacuate, with a van driving much too fast for its own good in an attempt to escape an explosion, which leads to it jumping a ramp, smashing into some overturned vehicles, getting knocked on its side, and sending one of those vehicles flying through the complex, with soldiers just barely managing to dive out of the way. More chaos ensues with another vehicle turning over, enormous fuel tanks exploding, and three soldiers almost getting crushed by big chunks of concrete. With the battle not going well for the humans, it's decided to give the mutants a turn. They get their weapons ready and are told that Ebirah must be stopped before he destroys the nearby energy plant. Ozaki and Kazama are told to lead the attack while the other mutants are to provide cover. They head out as Ebirah continues smashing his way through the place. They all get into position and the three other mutants fire bazookas upon Ebirah, which is followed up with Ozaki and Kazama hitting him with phasers. This does irritate Ebirah a little bit but he recovers enough to smash a storage tank, exasperating the condition of the environment and forcing the mutants jump off the column there on before it blows up. They all charge at Ebirah as he continues smashing everything around him, while a line of explosions travels alongside them. The three other mutants stop and fire on Ebirah again while Ozaki and Kazama run ahead to get to the opposite side and fire their phasers on him. Ebirah smashes a warehouse, forcing the other mutants to dive for cover, while Ozaki and Kazama dive out of the way as well. Kazama grabs a nearby dangling line, swings on it towards another storage tank, and then runs across the side of the tank while firing on Ebirah. Ozaki, at the same time, jumps and blasts Ebirah as well, with him and Kazama landing side by side. Kazama tells the other mutants to give them cover as they prepare to attack again. Once again, they attempt to distract Ebirah but this time, he isn't fooled and attempts to skewer Ozaki and Kazama with his claw, although he ends up missing them as they jump in either direction. He attempts to get them with his other claw and does manage to send them flying through the air from the force of it skidding across the ground. The two of them quickly roll over on their backs and fire on Ebirah's right claw as he tries to skewer them again, blowing the tips of it off in the process. As the two mutants run in front of him, Ebirah tries to smash them with his other claw but they jump out of the way again, with Kazama landing atop his arm before jumping up and firing on the side of Ebirah's face with everything he has, apparently blowing one of his eye-stalks off and forcing Ozaki to dodge the debris. Ozaki then fires on Ebirah's underside and the giant crustacean finally goes down, with Ozaki having to avoid being crushed as he collapses. Kazama lands on the right side of Ebirah's head with the other mutants gathering in front to prepare to blast him in the face. But, just as they're about to finish him off, Ebirah vanishes in a sudden blast of blinding light, causing Kazama to fall through thin air, although he manages to land on his feet. They all try to figure out what just happened, unaware that the same thing is happening across the globe.

In New York, Rodan dodges a maser blast by flying straight up and maneuvers himself behind the ship, when he suddenly vanishes. The same thing happens in Shanghai when Anguirus uncurls himself from his ball, skids across a street as he slows himself down, turns around to face the Karyu, and gets up on his hind legs in a battle stance. The captain of the ship is mystified to see an oddly-shaped craft appear in the sky and then depart the area when this happens. At EDF HQ, they learn of the UFOs and how they've gotten rid of all the monsters, followed by the information that the main UFO is heading in their direction and has actually appeared right above headquarters. The enormous ship deploys landing legs while hovering above headquarters, with many armed soldiers on the roof now having trained their rifles on it while hundreds of curious onlookers watch from the street. Commander Namikawa and Dr. Otonashi are on the roof as well and are soon joined by Ozaki, Kazama, and the rest of the mutant squad as they wait to see what the enormous ship will do next. A ray of light beams down from the ship's underside to reveal Daigo, much to everyone's astonishment. When Namikawa and one of her subordinates approach and ask what happened, Daigo says that the people in the ship saved him. He goes on to say that they're indeed aliens and that they're peaceful, calling this a historical moment. The three of them are then beamed onboard the ship and are introduced to the Xilien General and his young second-in-command, with the former reassuring them they are friendly, that they could have easily attacked rather than eliminate the monsters, and that they come to befriend everyone on Earth. After revealing themselves to be Xiliens, the general shows them an all-encompassing holographic vision of the planet Gorath heading towards and destroying Earth. The scene then transitions to Daigo at a summit meeting where the General describes the best way to destroy Gorath and the Secretary General declares that the United Nations will become the Space Nations for unity of the entire universe. Everyone in the place applauds at this but we see that Anna Otonashi is in the crowd and she doesn't seem too enthusiastic about all of this. Things slow down to a leisurely pace as love for the Xiliens spreads across the globe, with one guy going on a radio talk show while pretending to be one of the aliens and simply referring to himself as "X"  (incidentally, the DJ in this scene is Ryuhei Kitamura himself) and another show having panelists debate about whether or not they really are aliens.

The next section of the film has Ozaki and Miyuki Otonashi, with help from Anna, discovering evidence that the Xiliens might not be as friendly as they seem. Upon reviewing footage of Secretary General Daigo at that meeting, they discover that he never blinks. Anna says that they ought to go talk to Daigo and when they do, they discover that he doesn't remember Anna at all even though they spoke right before he disappeared. As they talk about a possible interview about the proposed Space Nations, and Daigo seems perplexed when Anna asks him about his dog, a man in a robe walks up to him and attacks him with a knife. He manages to stab him in the arm but is quickly restrained by Ozaki and turned over to Daigo's bodyguards, all the while screaming and calling Daigo the aliens' lackey. Miyuki wipes Daigo's bleeding wound but he staunchly refuses to go to the hospital and quickly walks away. Realizing that they've obtained a blood sample, Miyuki later analyzes it and discovers that it isn't human. Ozaki goes to Commander Namikawa to warn her of the imposter in their midst but realizes from her fixed, unblinking stare that she's an Xilien infiltrator as well. After a brief scene shows that there's tension amongst the Xiliens themselves, with the second-in-command not agreeing with the general's more peaceful way of taking over the Earth, Dr. Jinguji shows Ozaki and the others proof that Gorath doesn't exist and was merely a ruse by the Xiliens to gain the Earth people's trust. With the knowledge that Daigo and Namikawa are, in fact, imposters, Ozaki goes to one man he knows hasn't been replaced: Captain Gordon, who's spending his team in lockup punching a bag. Ozaki gets him out of his cell and brings him into the group, which he's rather impressed with upon seeing Miyuki and Anna. The next day, Anna holds a special live interview with Daigo and the two heads of the Xiliens, with people across the globe watching. Meanwhile, Miyuki begins accessing confidential files in the EDF database when she's confronted by the imposter Namikawa and another bogus superior. She gets them to confirm out loud that they're Xiliens and turn around upon hearing Ozaki's voice say that they've exposed themselves. They turn around to see him, Gordon, another superior, Kazama, and three other mutants and, upon realizing they've been tricked, the one imposter lunges towards them but Kazama tells him to watch it. After issuing a threat, he pulls out a weapon but Kazama pulls one out quicker and shoots him down. He and another mutant do the same to the imposter Namikawa when she attempts to shoot them. Ozaki runs to comfort the frightened Miyuki but the other imposter rises up and shoots him in the shoulder, although he's immediately put down by the other superior in the group. After Ozaki and Miyuki ask each other if they're okay, the Xilien bodies begin to convulse and make rather disgusting hocking and crunching sounds, followed by an alien screech. We don't see what happened but we know from the sounds and from the others' expressions that it's not good. After it's over, Gordon remarks that they have a nice memento.

Back on the talk show, Anna tricks Daigo into revealing himself as an imposter by making him think that her dog is the secretary general's. The second-in-command can't help but laugh at this and upon asking her what her point is, Ozaki, Gordon, and Miyuki come marching into the study, with Gordon carrying the exposed body of one of the Xilien imposters and throws in front of the aliens. Upon realizing they've been found out, Daigo attempts to get up but Gordon fatally shoots him, leading him to reveal his true form by coughing up blood and by his head splitting open to reveal the real one underneath (again, this has to be the most gruesome effect the series has ever seen). This horrifies the studio audience as well as everyone else in the world who's watching (save for a couple in a white room somewhere who just sort of stare at the TV screen), as Anna confirms that this is the Xiliens' true form. When Ozaki demands that the Xiliens explain themselves, the general stands up to continue with the plan of taking over peacefully but he's quickly silenced when the second-in-command blasts him through the head with a laser weapon, killing him instantly and prompting the studio audience to run out in a panic. The second-in-command then takes over as leader and tells the group that the Earthlings' only purpose is to act as their food supply. Four other Xiliens beam into the room and the new leader tells them that they don't have a chance to resist them since they have technology that's far more advanced than theirs and that they have control of the monsters. Gordon, however, likes to play the odds and that's when the entire force of mutants runs into the room, followed by their human commander. The leader is initially taken aback by this but, when his subordinates attempt to fight, talks them down and says that the "cattle" need to be taught a lesson. He then raises his hand and a high-frequency whine comes over the soundtrack, doing something that causes the mutants to writhe and convulse in apparent pain as well as the lights to continuously dim. Ozaki flies at the leader to engage him in combat but he manages to easily block all of his attacks and put him in an arm lock. He then lets him go and flings him across the room in front of Gordon before giving an order to, "take care of the rest" before he and his subordinates beam out of the room. The heroes soon realize what this meant when the mutants stop writhing and look at them in a very threatening manner, now under the control of the Xiliens. The other superior says that he'll hold them off and tells Gordon to go with the others, that they need to save the Earth. He then charges into the fray with the mutants while the others make it out the door. Ozaki gets one last reassuring look from the superior as he manages to hold his own with the mutants before closing the door, leaving him to continue the fight and get some more good licks in before he's inevitably overwhelmed.

Everyone makes it outside and is picked up by another superior. Major Komuro, in an armored van, with Ozaki jumping up and grabbing onto the back of the van. They make it to the freeway when they're jumped from the front by Kazama on a motorcycle, who drives across the roof and, after jumping off the back, turns around and shoots one of the tires. The van falls on its side and skids across the road a little ways before coming to a stop, with Kazama waiting nearby to make sure everyone's dead. That's when Ozaki bursts out of the back on his own motorcycle and the two of them face-off before engaging in a high speed chase down the highway. Getting far ahead of Ozaki, Kazama turns the bike around and drives right at him, with the two then circling around each other and firing their weapons. After they dodge each other's bullets, they throw their weapons away and peel off down the road, with Kazama now chasing Ozaki. The two of them race for a little bit while Gordon and the others make it out of the totaled van. Kazama catches up to Ozaki when they enter a tunnel and engage in hand-to-hand combat while still driving their motorcycles, going so far as to stand up on their bikes while continuing to fight. Ozaki manages to gain the upper hand and knock Kazama back with some hits to the throat as they exit the tunnel. The two of them race down the street for a little ways when Ozaki suddenly cuts his bike around and stops in front of Kazama, causing him to fly up into the air and fall off the bike. The bike crashes nearby while Kazama lands on his feet ahead of Ozaki, who guns the bike at him. Kazama runs and does a flying kick at Ozaki, who manages to dodge it but Kazama is able to grab onto the back of the motorcycle. He attempts to slow Ozaki down and the two of them exchange kicks before Kazama jumps onto the seat behind Ozaki and puts him in a headlock. He almost loses control of the bike and swerves back and forth to try to fling Kazama off. He manages to make him lose his grip, elbow him a couple of times, and grab him and fling him around to the front, which he grabs onto in another attempt to make the bike stop. Kazama grabs his throat and tries to choke him out but Ozaki manages to blast him off the bike (I'm not sure how he did it, though), causing him to skid backwards in front of him before finally stopping. Kazama charges and flies at Ozaki again as he drives towards him, guns the bike to the point where its rear sticks up, and maneuvers it around so Kazama slams into it, sending him flying and tumbling across the road, putting him out of commission. He tries to get back up but is ultimately too injured to continue the fight and collapses.

The Xilien leader, meanwhile, begins an enormous attack on Earth by telling Gigan to rise. The mummified cyborg activates within the museum he's being kept at it, with the layer of earth covering him shaking off as his single, red eye lights up and he scrapes the walls with his claws. Hunkering down and crossing his arms in his battle stance, he smashes his way up through the roof and makes his way outside with a screech. The leader then orders all the monsters to be unleashed to show the humans that they're nothing more than livestock by destroying their civilization. The entire planet turns into a warzone, with thousands of Xilien fights pouring out of the mother-ship while Gigan trounces through Tokyo and uses his eye laser to blow the EDF HQ. In Shanghai, Anguirus is unleashed once again and is this time aided by an army of Xilien fighters in completely annihilating the city. The Karyu is completely overwhelmed by this frenzy, unable to destroy all of the fighters attacking it, with Anguirus then finishing it off by rolling into a ball and flinging himself at the ship, breaking it in two and with one piece slamming into the top of a tower, as Anguirus watches from nearby. As the Xilien leader cackles evilly, another EDF ship attempts to attack Rodan in New York again but is destroyed instantly by his sonic boom in a shot where you can see that the Statue of Liberty and most of the city has been destroyed. The same goes for Paris where you see Kamacuras looking over the devastated city. The leader gloats about how the humans are about to be wiped out. At Mt. Fuji, the hunter and grandson who found Minya become aware of what's going on when they see explosions in the distance and three Xilien fighters zoom right above them after the grandfather unsuccessfully tries to get a signal on the radio. The grandfather decides that they'd best get out and all three of them pile into his pickup truck (Minya has to sit in the back) and take off down a dirt road. Back in the devastated Tokyo, the group of heroes manage to make it to the Gotengo's underground emergency dock and meet up with all that's left of the Earth Defense Force. They're told that the Xiliens, luckily, haven't discovered the dock yet and that the Gotengo has been repaired and is ready to go. As everyone gets onboard and prepares to leave, with Ozaki bringing the injured Kazama aboard as well, they try to decide what to do next, with Gordon commenting that the Gotengo is not their last hope, as Maj. Komuro says. According to him, their last hope is to go to the South Pole and awaken Godzilla. After Miyuki confirms that Godzilla can't be controlled by the Xiliens since he has no M-base within him, Gordon says that they'll have him battle the monsters while they take care of the Xiliens, and then, when it's over, lock him back up at the South Pole, just as he did before, with a flashback revealing that he was the one who shot the missiles that buried him there in the first place. He says that, with the war already lost and the world in ruins, what's left is pride: whether they die hiding or fighting. Once everyone is made clear on the lofty mission they're about to undertake, they say goodbye to Anna, who's staying behind, with Gordon giving her a camera to use to tell the story to the next generation, the Gotengo prepares to lift off. Gordon orders a message about their intentions to wake up Godzilla to be sent to the base at the South Pole and decrees this mission as Operation Final War. With that, the Gotengo takes off, drilling its way to the surface and flying off into the skies above the destroyed Tokyo. Spotting the Gotengo, the Xilien leader sends Gigan after it.

After we're introduced to the station at Area G, the location at the South Pole where Godzilla lies buried, and the two guys there who like drinking coffee and eating croissants while listening to the soundtrack to Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (one of whom does a spit take with his coffee when he hears that the Gotengo is coming to wake up Godzilla), the heroes arrive but, unfortunately, so does Gigan. The cyborg flies underneath them and fires his eye laser, which shakes them up a little bit inside but Gordon tells them to hold on since they're almost there. The guys at the station, meanwhile, open up the dome covering the exact spot where Godzilla lies frozen. Gigan is continuing to attack the Gotengo, flying around them and skirting their top with his buzz-saw, killing the main engine and sending the ship heading towards the ground. They descend above the frozen Godzilla with Gigan hot on their heels, which is when Gordon orders Ozaki to fire the missiles. The missiles fire out of the Gotengo's sides, flying right past Gigan, and as the ship comes to rest on the ground, the missiles curve back around in the sky and destroy the spot where Godzilla lies frozen in an enormous explosion. Gigan lands near the Gotengo and prepares to attack when an atomic blast shoots out from within the smoke and fire, knocking him back. As those aboard the ship watch, Godzilla lets out a mighty roar upon being freed, as we get a nice shot of fire reflected in his eye. He turns and takes his anger out on the nearby station, obliterating it with one mighty blast. Gigan then flies in and blasts Godzilla from the front, who turns to face him as he lands nearby. Gigan deploys a couple of grappling lines from under his left claw, which Godzilla easily catches. The cyborg then fires two more from his other arm, which lasso Godzilla's neck. He then starts up his buzz-saw and attempts to pull Godzilla into it. Godzilla does struggle to keep from being pulled towards the saw but he manages to quickly end the fight by blowing up Gigan's head. The headless cyborg falls forward and Godzilla pulls the one grappling cable off his neck before roaring triumphantly. The Xilien leader is not at all happy about this after seeing it back on the mother-ship, actually roaring back at Godzilla before wondering what he is. Gordon then contacts him and tells him that he and Godzilla are two things he doesn't know about the Earth, which is followed up by a parade of images of Godzilla roaring as lightning flashes around him and the leader saying that he'll deal with Gordon personally while Godzilla can deal with a flaming comet that's shown heading towards Earth. Back at the South Pole, Godzilla spots the Gotengo and marches toward it, intent upon finishing the fight they had years before. With repairs to the ship complete, they take off and fly past Godzilla, just missing him. He fires at them but they manage to dodge it and swing around, with Godzilla keeping them in his sights and chasing after them. Now that Godzilla's doing what they want, they head back to Japan, flying through a powerful rainstorm in the ocean with the Big G right behind them. After a brief shot of Minya traveling with the hunter and his grandson, we see the Gotengo and Godzilla arrive in the destroyed Sydney.

The Xilien leader decides to see what Godzilla's made of and teleports Zilla down by the Sydney Opera House, which Godzilla stomps past when he comes ashore. The two of them face off and Zilla charges at Godzilla, who fires at him. Zilla dodges the blast and jumps at Godzilla, who swings around and whacks him with his tail, sending him crashing into the Opera House. Godzilla then completely incinerates him and the building with one last mighty blast, while the leader throws a stomping temper tantrum and proclaims that he knew Zilla was worthless. The Gotengo next leads Godzilla to New Guinea, where he runs into Kumonga while stomping through the jungle. The spider shoots a line of silk up in the air that opens up into a net that falls down and covers Godzilla. As he tries to get the webbing off of him, Kumonga hops behind him and sprays another net onto him before hopping off to the side. Godzilla turns and faces the spider and when it fires another line, he grabs it in mid-air, uses it to swing Kumonga around in the air a few times before finally sending it flying over the horizon. Again, the Xilien leader is frustrated but undeterred and, when the Gotengo and Godzilla arrive in Kanazuru, Japan, he sends Kamacuras out on a bridge to face him. However, the mantis is forced to fly off the bridge in order to avoid getting swept away with it by a large tidal wave that Godzilla causes when he surfaces. Upon doing so, Godzilla senses an enemy hiding in the nearby hills and fires across them, forcing Kamacuras to drop its camouflage and fly out of the trees it was hiding amongst. It zooms at Godzilla but he catches it and flings it backwards, causing its body to get impaled on an electrical tower. Godzilla walks right past the dying insect once that little distraction is taken care of. While the Xilien leader now thinks it's interesting that Earth does indeed have a powerful creature in the form of Godzilla, the old man, his grandson, and Minya watch him plow through the town from nearby. When the boy asks why Godzilla is doing this, his grandfather explains that long ago, mankind did something to him that angered him, something that he'll never forgive them for. Minya then suddenly runs back to the truck and throws a little bit of a fit, smacking the passenger's window and shoving the vehicle while gesturing back at them. While they try to figure out what he wants, we get a quiet scene between Ozaki and Miyuki as he gives her the amulet the Shobijin give him and tells her that the reason he keeps fighting even when he has no chance is because he's her bodyguard. After that, we get a cute scene where the old man and his grandson are driving in the truck with Minya, who's sitting in the passenger seat and about gives the old man a conniption when he grabs the steering wheel.

Meanwhile, as Godzilla approaches Mt. Fuji, the Xiliens unleash Rodan, King Caesar, and Anguirus to intercept him. When he enters a big valley nearby, he's confronted with Anguirus and the two of them seem to recognize and call to each other. But, during the conversation, things apparently go south and the two charge each other, with Rodan and King Caesar coming in from either side. Right when they're about to meet, Godzilla steps on Anguirus' head and jumps up into the air, causing Rodan and King Caesar to crash into each other. Godzilla skids to a halt nearby and turns to face King Caesar, who charges at him but then runs right past him and up the hillside behind him. He then jumps off at Godzilla, who catches him and throws him on top of Anguirus. Minya and his two human friends arrive nearby to watch the fight, as Anguirus curls up and rolls at Godzilla while Rodan flies at him from behind. This attack is effective, with Godzilla getting spiked in the chest and then tagged in the back of the head but he quickly recovers and turns around in time to see Anguirus hurdling back towards him. Godzilla whacks him with his tail and causes him to hit Rodan, who crashes roughly onto the ground nearby. As Anguirus continues hurtling through the air, King Caesar does a running kick and sends him back at Godzilla, who attempts to stop him but misses and hits the ground while King Caesar lands on his feet nearby. Anguirus crashes into the hillside behind Rodan and falls on top of him, with King Caesar's ears flaring straight up as he attempts to take Godzilla on by himself. He charges and tries to hit him with his knee but Godzilla grabs his leg and flings him into that same hillside, causing him to fall on top of Anguirus' spikes when he slides off. Godzilla looks at all three of his wiped out foes, who moan in pain, and lets out a victory roar with Mt. Fuji behind him. Minya, who excitedly cheers Godzilla's victory from nearby, lets out a radioactive smoke ring before he begins to glow and, as you can tell from his ascending POV shot, grows in size.

With the sun setting, the Gotengo approaches the Xilien mother-ship, which hasn't gone unnoticed by the leader. He sends out a welcome party of hundreds of fighters that position themselves into a blockade in front of the mother-ship and head for the Gotengo. As everyone onboard holds their breath, Gordon says that this is it. As the fighters reach them, they begin firing lasers upon the Gotengo, which responds with shots from laser turrets on all of its sides. While the battle rages outside, Kazama suits up for his own private mission. As the Gotengo wades through the hail of laser fire and approach the mother-ship, Ozaki fires the maser, only for it to blast harmlessly against an energy shield surrounding the ship. That's when they realize that a fighter is departing from the Gotengo, with the pilot revealing himself to be Kazama, who says that he's paying his debt to them. Ignoring Ozaki's pleading to stop, he maneuvers amongst the Xilien fighters, dodging laser blasts with incredible position, and makes it through the opening they deployed out of before the doors close. Two Xilien fighters chase him inside, with two others joining them, one of which gets behind him to join the pursuers while the other hovers in front of him while taking shots. He manages to evade them and their laser fire, as well as blow up the one in front of him, with the wreckage crashing into two of the fighters after him, and make his way to the shield generator. After he takes some hits from behind, Kazama says that the rest is up to Ozaki and flies full throttle at the generator, smashing into it and destroying it in a big explosion, resulting in the shield outside evaporating. Ozaki is crestfallen over Kazama's sacrifice but Gordon tells him to get a grip, that they're going in. Continuing to fend off the assault of the hundreds of fighter crafts, the Gotengo makes its way towards the ship and drills through the hull. Once their halfway inside, Ozaki prepares to fire the maser when some Xiliens beam aboard and hold them at laser gunpoint. The leader comes over the monitor and, after taunting the heroes, tells his subordinates to kill the crewmembers, which they do before quickly training their guns back on the others when they attempt to attack. The leader tells them to bring the rest to him. A quick glimpse on Infant Island shows the Shobijin summoning Mothra with their prayers, with her flying straight up and then banking across the ocean, creating waves with her wings, as she heads for Tokyo.

At Tokyo Bay, with a flash of light that heads from the ocean up into the sky, Hedorah drops down and slams into a building, followed immediately by Ebirah, who slams into the Smog Monster and pierces his right eye with his claw. Godzilla then erupts out of the water and lets out a mighty atomic blast that cuts a line of explosions towards the two helpless monsters, with the force of it blasting both them and the building behind them backwards through the city, ultimately smashing into another, much taller one, with a massive explosion finishing them both off. Onboard the mother-ship, the Xilien leader once again freaks out over this but decides it's not worth crying over spilled milk. With Gordon and the others now in his presence, and with an Xilien woman taking Gordon's kitanna sword and his captain's cap to taunt him, the leader explains that they feed on their mitochondria and that they will raise and harvest them like livestock on a farm. He then says them to get ready for the main event, which is to be the end of Godzilla. The comet that was seen earlier reaches Earth and is about to enter the atmosphere when Godzilla senses it while he's stomping through Tokyo. Looking up and seeing it coming, Godzilla stomps his feet, bends over and thrashes his tail, and builds up a very powerful atomic blast that he shoots straight up, through the sky and past the atmosphere, and hitting the comet. It takes a lot of struggling and power for Godzilla to finally destroy the comet but succeeds, creating a massive explosion and shockwave through the sky. Although it at first seems like Godzilla has foiled whatever the leader hand in, as he stands at the center of the huge crater that he's made in the middle of the city, Monster X descends to the ground behind him. Godzilla turns and growls at this new opponent, who growls right back at him. After a fancy shot of the camera circling them during their standoff, followed by a wide-shot of them as lightning crackles in the background, the two monsters charge at each other, jumping and slashing one another on the sides before landing and skidding to a stop. Monster X then runs at Godzilla, whom stomps towards it, and jumps up and punches him on the side of the face, following it up with a whack from its tail. It then lands in front of Godzilla, grabs his wrists, forces his arms straight down, and lifts him up, causing him to scream in agony. Godzilla does manage to get back down to the ground and shove Monster X away. It dodges him when he tries to whip it with his own tail but isn't quick enough to avoid an atomic blast to the face, which forces it back. Monster X retaliates by firing gravity beams from the eyes of its heads, which hit Godzilla in the chest and cause him to stumble backwards, groaning in pain, before falling to his knees. Despite his pain, though, Godzilla looks up and snarls at Monster X, refusing to give in.

As the Xilien leader laughs at Monster X having the upper hand, Mothra arrives at the battle-site, prompting the leader to send the upgraded Gigan after her. Gigan is deployed from beneath the ship and, after showing off the double-chainsaws he has on both hands, flies off to intercept Mothra. He comes up behind her and after flying past her, the two of them slam into each other a couple of times while circling the destroyed Tokyo Tower. Mothra gets blasted back and hovers in the air as Gigan skids to a stop and approaches her. She begins creating strong winds to try to blow Gigan back but he uses the chainsaws to stab into and then propel himself across the ground towards her. While she flies up to avoid him, he grabs her abdomen with his tail and pulls her backwards a bit before flinger her up into the air. Mothra flies up into the sky, with Gigan giving chase, and when he catches up to her, he manages to slice off the bottom part of her left wing. Unable to fly as a result, Mothra crashes to the ground. Back onboard the ship, the leader reveals the relationship between Xiliens and mutants, as well as explains that Ozaki is a Keizer whose power has yet to be fully awakened. After revealing that he himself is a Keizer too, the leader blasts Ozaki with a beam of energy in an attempt to awaken his power. Back outside, Monster X fires upon Godzilla again but this time, he manages to keep his footing and stomp towards his opponent. That's when Gigan blasts him from behind and then lands, brandishing his chainsaws. Godzilla turns around and realizes that it's a two-on-one match, turning back to face Monster X. Onboard the ship, Ozaki is still getting blasted by the leader, who tells him to wake up and be a Keizer. After he's done zapping him, he allows Ozaki to stand up, with his full power now coursing through him. He tells him to kill the humans and he slowly turns around and looks at them menacingly. Gordon tries to stop Ozaki but gets backhanded in the face and when Maj. Komuro tries to stop him, he gets punched in the face. Miyuki grabs him from behind but gets knocked to the floor, while Gordon grabs Ozaki from behind to try to restrain him. Ozaki easily manages to break the grip and grabs Gordon by the throat, lifts him up, and begins to squeeze. Outside, Monster X has restrained Godzilla from behind, allowing Gigan to stomp up to him and slash him across the chest with his chainsaws. Godzilla, however, manages to move himself around so Gigan ends up slicing Monster X on the back when he comes in for another swing. While they're distracted by this, Mothra suddenly comes flying in and knocks them both to the ground (I guess she figured out how to fly with a clipped wing). Godzilla turns and roars in satisfaction upon seeing this. Meanwhile, Ozaki is still strangling Gordon when Miyuki, hearing a sound emitting from the amulet she has within her coat, pulls it out to see that it's glowing. She runs to Ozaki and touches him with it, creating a glow of energy that makes him drop Gordon and momentarily incapacitates him. While Godzilla rushes Monster X outside, Ozaki comes to his senses and asks what he did before turning his sights on the leader. Mothra, meanwhile, is again being chased by Gigan, who's using his chainsaws to zip across the ground once more. She flies up into the sky and comes back around him, with Gigan turning and firing two razor-sharp discs at her. These miss but Gigan's eye laser doesn't, which engulfs Mothra in a big explosion. Gigan turns back around and screeches triumphantly, when the discs come back like boomerangs and hit him on either side of his neck. Gigan turns back around to face Mothra, revving up his chainsaws, but then his circuits blow out and his head falls off (he might be the only character in history to have ever been beheaded twice in one movie!) Although the headless body stomps forward, Mothra then flings her burning body at him and crashes into him, destroying him utterly in an explosion.

Since Ozaki couldn't be turned, the Xilien leader decides to have him exterminated. His subordinates open fire on him and everyone else with their laser guns but Ozaki demonstrates a new power by stopping the lasers in mid-air and flinging them back, forcing every Xilien except the leader to shield themselves. Seeing a challenge in Ozaki's eyes, the leader has his subordinates watch the others while he and the mutant prepare to battle one-on-one. Charging up with power, he engages Ozaki, with the two of them trading punches and kicks for a bit before they face off again and move parallel to each other. Ozaki jumps at the leader, who knocks him down to the floor and while he lands on his feet, he jumps again only to get caught by the throat and forced to the ground. The leader lifts him up by the throat while squeezing and flings him against a pillar. Miyuki tries to help but one of the guards puts the kitanna blade to her throat, as Ozaki gets back to his feet while the leader cackles like a maniac and the two run at each other. Outside, Godzilla manages to shove Monster X back and down to the ground. Getting on top of it, he charges up but, before he can fire, Monster X knocks his head up, causing him to blast the underside of the mother-ship. The impact knocks everyone inside off-balance and gives Gordon and the others the chance to turn the tables on the guards. While Miyuki, unsurprisingly, has trouble dealing with her guard, Gordon and Maj. Komuro are more than able to knock the guards around. Distracted by what's going on, Ozaki gets grabbed from behind by the leader but is able to break the lock and continue the fight, as do his friends (Miyuki slaps the one she's fighting but only succeeds in getting slapped harder). While tangling with two at once, Gordon sees that his friends need help and so, when they both attempt to laser-blast him, he turns their hands and forces them to shoot at the other two Xiliens. He then gives the two he's fighting knee-kicks to the gut and throws them away, managing to wrench their laser-guns from their hands. As the four of them prepare to attack, Gordon fires on them but the female Xilien manages to use both his sword and her own blade to block the blasts. Gordon raises an intrigued eyebrow at this and continues firing as she charges at him, all the while deflecting the laser blasts. She manages to get up to him and knock the guns from his head before training the sword on his neck. She's about to deliver the killing blow when the sword suddenly gets blasted out of her hand. The blade flies straight up and Gordon jumps up, catches it, and goes to town on two of the Xiliens, slicing the crap out of them, while the other two get back in combat position. The others then see that the person who fired on the female Xilien was none other than Daigo, who's standing in the doorway with Commander Namikawa and another superior. Daigo vaguely explains that they managed to escape somehow and then boasts that they used to call him, "Mr. One Shot." As everyone stands off, Ozaki tells Gordon to get the others back to the Gotengo and that he'll finish the leader. Gordon says, "Don't miss the train," and he and the others take off down the hall, with the other two Xiliens following them.

Outside, Godzilla is punching Monster X's middle head repeatedly and although it does manage to grab his arms, it's too weak to maintain a grip and he pulls them free. Back onboard, everyone's running to the ship when Gordon, knowing that they're being followed, tells Komuro to get them all to the ship while he stays behind. The group heads on down the corridors but runs into a big squad of Xilien soldiers before they can reach the ship. They're immediately fired upon, with Komuro getting hit in the arm, and are forced to take cover behind some pillars and fire back on them. Meanwhile, Ozaki is still battling the leader, blocking kicks from him and getting his own punches blocked, with the leader having his back turned to him, when he gets kneed in the gut. The leader puts him in a headlock but Ozaki manages to fling him across the room. The leader jumps at him and kicks him in the chest, sending him flying back, but Ozaki retaliates by jumping off the wall and flinging himself at the leader. The bad guy, however, manages to knock him to the floor by causing him to run into his outstretched arm. Elsewhere, the two Xilien guards reach Gordon and they face off, with the one pulling out his laser blaster. Gordon, however, sticks his sword into a pillar and opts to fight them hand-to-hand, a challenge they both accept. At the same time, the others are bristling from the barrage of laser blasts near the Gotengo, holding them off as best as they can. Back at the main battle, Ozaki gets kneed in the head, punched repeatedly in the face, and kicked to the floor. He struggles to get back up, all the while spitting up blood while the leader laughs at his pain. Cutting back to Gordon, we see him facing off with the male Xilien, managing to easily block his blows, take those that do land, and put out of commission with a head-smash and throw his limp body to the floor. The female then comes up behind him, kicks him to the floor, and then knees him in the head three times. Getting back up, he catches a punch that she throws and that's when you get the cool moment when Gordon acts like he's contemplating hitting a woman and then knocks her out with a chop to the neck. After saying, "Sorry, sweetheart," he picks up his sword and heads to join the other. As that's going on, the leader uses some telekinetic powers to lift Ozaki up and fling him up against the wall. Confident that's he won, the leader reiterates that his kind only live to serve him, but Ozaki gets back up and, glowing with power, says that he has a choice about how to use his power and says that they're not cattle, they're humans. The leader is unimpressed and charges at Ozaki, only to get whacked in the throat. Taken aback by this momentarily, the leader attempts to punch him several times but Ozaki blocks the blows and grabs his hand. After strongly pulling it away, Ozaki chops him in the gut and then gets down and kicks him in the chest before getting back up and delivering a number of punishing blows to the head. The leader goes in for a kick but Ozaki grabs his leg and flips him down onto the ground. Ozaki jumps onto him and begins punching his head repeatedly, with the guy futilely trying to block the punches. A nice juxtaposed shot with a video screen shows Godzilla doing the same thing to Monster X outside. The leader manages to grab his neck and fling him away but Ozaki lands on his feet while the leader struggles to get back up. Once he does, they both charge and jump at each other, meeting in the air. Ozaki dodges the leader's punch, delivering his own blow to the guy's gut, sending him flying backwards and against the wall. He falls to the floor and groans in agony, while Ozaki comes down to rest in front of him. He rolls over onto his back and then begins to cackle maniacally, which worries Ozaki. He then says that he wont die alone, just as an explosion rips through a nearby wall. Ozaki realizes that the ship is self-destructing and runs to join his friends.

Back near the Gotengo, everyone is still caught up in a huge firefight and Commander Namikawa gets blasted in the shoulder. Things look bleak for them when the self-destructing ship causes an explosion that blows away the Xilien soldiers. As everyone steps out from behind the pillar, shocked at their sudden good fortune, Gordon comes strolling by and says, "Hey, I thought I told you guys to get back to the ship." As the place blows up around them, everyone makes it back to the Gotengo and climbs aboard, with Namikawa being taken to the sick bay. At that time, Ozaki charges through the exploding mother-ship and makes it back aboard as well. As everyone prepares to get out of their, Maj. Komuro gets knocked into a guardrail by the impact of an explosion, severely hurting his arm and forcing Miyuki to take the set of controls that he was about to. It takes her a bit but she manages to pull the Gotengo out of the hole in the ship's hull right before it blows up in an enormous fireball. On the ground, Godzilla and Monster X are surrounded by fire as they both shoot their energy, causing another huge explosion that sends them both flying backwards. Aboard the Gotengo, everyone watches as Godzilla gets back to his feet and shakes off any pain he feels while Monster X goes through a horrific transformation, sprouting wings (in this shot, it looks like Destoroyah), separating its three heads, becoming a quadruped with its arms turning into front legs, and growing long necks beneath its heads as it fully reveals its new form as Keizer Ghidorah. Godzilla roars upon seeing this while Ghidorah screeches as lightning flashes around it. Once again, both monsters fire their beams at the same time but here, Ghidorah's gravity beams overpower Godzilla's atomic blast and manage to reach him and blow him backwards onto the ground. Ghidorah blasts the helpless Godzilla across the ground, causing him to slam into the base of a building, before it uses the gravity beams to lift him up into the sky and drop him onto the building head-first. Ghidorah then uses the beams to roll Godzilla across the ground, causing him to smash small buildings before hitting the base of another tall one, which collapses on his head. Still not through causing him pain, Ghidorah lifts Godzilla up again and brings him over, dropping him to the ground in front of it. The dragon stomps and kicks Godzilla with its front legs, sending him crashing backwards onto another destroyed building. Before he knows what hit him, Ghidorah stomps towards him and grabs ahold of his neck and thighs with its mouths, lifts him up, and proceeds to attempt to drain the energy out of him. Godzilla's arms go limp as a sign that he's losing energy and any will to fight. Aboard the Gotengo, Miyuki realizes what's happening and says that they must give him more energy. Ozaki then jumps into the maser chair, charges the weapon and the entire ship up with his Keizer power, and blasts Godzilla with it.

Now imbued with newfound power, Godzilla grabs ahold of Ghidorah's middle and left heads and, using the power coursing through his body, forces the dragon to let go of him. Dropping down, Godzilla grabs one head and bites the other, while the middle shoots him in the face to make him let go. Godzilla retaliates by blowing the middle head up with an atomic blast and, when the left head tries to zap, he points it at the right one to blow it off. Throwing the severed head away, Godzilla grabs the one that's left and throws Ghidorah's body over his shoulder, causing it to crash into the destroyed buildings in front of them. Godzilla then stomps over to Ghidorah, roughly steps on the throat of the remaining head, and then kicks the body before grabbing the tail and flinging it back and forth. He then flings it up into the air, does a swish, and fires on it with a crimson-colored blast, sending Ghidorah's body up into the sky and through the atmosphere, where it explodes. After watching the fire fade, Godzilla roars triumphantly and then turns around to face the Gotengo. He blasts it, sending it flying backwards, smashing through the charred hull of a building, and skidding across the ground before coming to rest and powering down completely. Gordon growls, "Son of a bitch! He just won't quit!" Everyone grabs what weapons they can and heads outside, as Godzilla comes stomping towards the downed Gotengo. They all face him as he looms over them, growling menacingly, when suddenly, Minya and his two friends show up. Minya puts himself between Godzilla and the humans, with his dad looking at him and growling lowly. The grandfather tells Godzilla that he must forgive them but he doesn't appear to have any intention to do so, roaring at them and prompting them to prepare their weapons. Angry at his stubbornness, the old man points his rifle at Godzilla when his grandson gets in front of him and he holds his arms out, refusing to move. Minya takes a cue from this and does the same, refusing to let Godzilla harm the heroes without hurting him first. After a big pan-around shot that shows everything that's going on, Godzilla slowly relaxes and, deciding it's not worth it, turns around and heads back to Tokyo Bay. Minya runs after his father, stopping momentarily to show his human friends that he's now able to shoot his own atomic blast, while everyone begins to relax after this long battle. As everyone watches Godzilla and his son walk off into the sunrise, Miyuki comments that the war is over. Ozaki, however, says that a new war is beginning (I'm not sure what he means by that, though). The film's final shots are of Godzilla and Minya swimming home into the rising sun, with Godzilla turning back around and giving one last roar, while outtakes and scenes from the movie play behind the closing credits. The last sound is Godzilla's roar from the original 1954 film, which was the first thing heard there and truly brings the series full-circle.

One thing I wasn't too sure about when I first watched Godzilla: Final Wars was the music score, composed by Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, Nobuhiko Morino, and Daisuke Yano (the latter two's work is what you mostly hear in the actual film). It didn't sound like the correct type of score for a Godzilla movie, and I particularly didn't care for the upbeat, zydeco-type of theme that you hear during the opening narration and throughout the ending credits. While it has grown on me in recent viewings, including that particular theme, I don't think it's one of the best scores this series has ever heard. I do really like the theme that you hear at the beginning of the movie during Godzilla's battle with the Gotengo and whenever he does something particularly awesome later on. It's a great, pounding, driving theme that's accentuated by some vocalizing voices and really gives the feeling that this Godzilla is very powerful and is not to be taken lightly. The rest of the music, though, is generic and forgettable, ranging from downright silly, as in the scenes between Ozaki and Miyuki and such, to out and out noise that doesn't punctuate the drama and the action that well, like what you hear during most of the action scenes. I cannot, for the life of me, remember a single tune from the film's climax. It all blended together and just sounded like the same, unmemorable music being played continuously throughout the climax. I did like the rock music you hear when Gordon's punching the bag in his cell, though. It really shows what a badass he is. Like I said earlier, there are also a tune by Sum 41 to be found here: the song, We're All To Blame, which is played during Godzilla's very brief fight with Zilla. I'll admit, while I'm not interested in that type of music, I actually liked hearing that song in this movie because it felt like Godzilla had broken through to the mainstream when he had a rock song playing in his movie. I know it's a bit petty but that's the reason I liked it... plus, it goes well with seeing Godzilla annihilate his American counterpart. (Zebrahead also composed a song called Godzilla vs. Tokyo, although it was never put into the actual film and didn't appear on the official soundtrack album either, which was also the case for the Sum 41 song.) There are some tracks from the past to be found here to enhance the nostalgia. I already mentioned the presence of Masaru Sato's music from Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla but, when Minya first appears, you can also hear one of his themes from Son of Godzilla. And as I mentioned earlier, the first piece of music you hear is Akira Ifukube's original rough Godzilla theme from King Kong vs. Godzilla.

The English dub for the film is actually quite entertaining, even if it does tend to stray from the subtitles on the official Sony DVD release. They picked some really good, personality-filled voices for the important characters, especially in the case of Ozaki and the Xilien leader. Ozaki's voice has the right tone and attitude for the type of character he is, while the guy who plays the Xilien leader really amps up the crazy for his performance, even more so than Kazuki Kitamura. During the latter half of the film, he really gets to go over the top with his maniacal cackling and I like the nuances he gives the performance, like when he's watching Godzilla fight Hedorah and Ebirah, is frustrated that they're losing, and when his prisoners are brought to him, he says, "Just a minute!" Then, when he sees them get destroyed, he just goes, "Oh, well." Also along for the ride is the guy who dubbed Akira Nakao many times. Not only does he do his voice here during the opening but he also dubs Daigo and the old man who runs across Minya, and while the latter voice was kind of a stereotypical old man voice, I though he did a fair job voicing Daigo. The downside of the dubbed voices is the women, none of whom sound particularly memorable, especially Commander Namikawa (Kumi Mizuno got another bad dub job back in Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla) and the Shobijin, who sound like soulless robots when they talk here. What's more, they dub Kane Kosugi as Kazama, even during the moments where he spoke English originally (which sounded like a dub job in and of itself before), but they don't dub the other, cringe-worthy English voices, such as that cop in New York. They really should have gotten someone to dub that guy's dialogue. Fortunately, though, Don Frye's voice isn't touched at all, so you get to hear his gravelly, tough guy voice in all its glory with the great dialogue that he says in both versions. All in all, I think the English dub for Godzilla; Final Wars is by far one of the more entertaining of those done for the Millennium films and is one I do recommend.

You have to be in the right type of mood for Godzilla: Final Wars. It's by far the most wild, insane, and out there film in the series and if you're not into that type of stuff, you will not like this movie. While I can say that I ultimately enjoy the movie, I do think it suffers from being jam-packed with so much stuff and being almost nothing except constant action, to the point where, by the time the third act rolls around, it really begins to burn itself out and the over-the-top fight scenes and visual style become tiresome. What's more, I think the action scenes focus a little too much on the fights between the heroes and the Xiliens rather than on the monsters, especially during the climax, where you don't see much of Godzilla's fight with Monster X. And the music score is nothing special. However, there is a lot of good in this movie as well. While it does get tiring after a while, the action is well choreographed and fun to watch; some of the characters are fun, especially Captain Gordon and the Xilien leader; the director's heart is in the right place; the film definitely has a healthy budget, with an enormous scope and top notch special effects, as well as a visual style that's uniquely its own; it's nice seeing a lot of monsters that haven't been in a movie since the Showa era, as well as some music cues from past films; and Godzilla himself is in good form, looking great in design and being portrayed here as a badass who never backs down from a fight and is more powerful and agile than he's ever been. In conclusion, it might not be everyone's taste but, if you're in the mood for a wild, energetic flick that is entertaining at the end of the day, I would recommend it. Let me put it to you this way: I'd rather watch it than Godzilla '98, simply because, while they're both overblown, dumb movies, Godzilla: Final Wars is at least one that's done by a fan of the character and the franchise.

And with that, we've at long last wrapped up this almost year-long trek through the Godzilla franchise. I'm sorry if you got tired of it after a while but, I love this series, I had made a commitment to review all of these films, and, damn it, nothing was going to stop me. Ultimately, I hope you enjoyed it and it prompted you to check out these movies if you'd never seen them before or, if you're a fan like me, I hope you enjoyed this stroll through this awesome film series. So, now that everything's said and done, what's next for Godzilla? Well, even though I have some qualms with the 2014 Legendary Pictures film, I'm glad that it did very well, proving that there is still love for the character after all these years. What's more, there are two sequels for it in the works, which I think is great because it means that Godzilla's going to stay in the public eye for a while. Who knows, maybe Toho will start up again and we'll get more Japanese Godzilla films along with the American ones (Godzilla: Final Wars didn't do that well but, regardless, maybe the success of the latest, Hollywood film will be enough incentive for him to bring him back). But, whatever happens, I'm glad that there are still fans for him out there, and I know that he'll be around for many years, probably even after I'm gone. But, in any case, thank you for joining me on this big project, the biggest one I've ever tackled, and I'll see you next time. Sayonara.

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